Removing the NTSC presets from Final Cut Pro 7

Hey everyone.

On a recent consultancy project I had a higher education client running Final Cut Pro X but they still needed access to Final Cut Pro 7 for some legacy items. To assist their student’s choices when starting a new project, they asked that all NTSC presets be removed for the ‘new project wizard’ screen.

After some digging and trial and error I managed to get the task accomplished. In this blog I have detailed the steps I used to achieve this.

The usual Disclaimer:
While the author has taken care to provide our readers with accurate information, please use your discretion before acting upon information based on the blog post. Amsys will not compensate you in any way whatsoever if you ever happen to suffer a loss/inconvenience/damage because of/while making use of information in this blog.

Right, let’s get to it.

Locations

After some digging, I found that there are three separate locations (and 5 sub-folders) that you need to gut to get the end result. These are:

  • /Applications/Final Cut Pro.app/Contents/Resources/English.lproj/Final Cut Pro Settings/Hardware Settings/
  • /Applications/Final Cut Pro Additional Easy Setups.localized/
    • ./French.localized/
    • ./German.localized
    • ./Japanese.localized
    • ./zh_CN.localized
    • ./English.localized/
  • /Library/Application Support/Final Cut Pro System Support/Custom Settings/

Inside of all these folders are over 60 files I have removed. As the client had no requirement, and to reduce the complexity, I ended up completely removing the French, German, Japanese and “zh_CN” localization folders.

Final List of Items to Remove

This is my final list of items I had to remove:

1. /Applications/Final Cut Pro.app/Contents/Resources/English.lproj/Final Cut Pro Settings/Hardware Settings/DV – NTSC*.fcpre
2. /Applications/Final Cut Pro.app/Contents/Resources/English.lproj/Final Cut Pro Settings/Hardware Settings/OfflineRT – NTSC*.fcpre
3. /Applications/Final Cut Pro Additional Easy Setups.localized/French.localized
4. /Applications/Final Cut Pro Additional Easy Setups.localized/German.localized
5. /Applications/Final Cut Pro Additional Easy Setups.localized/Japanese.localized
6. /Applications/Final Cut Pro Additional Easy Setups.localized/zh_CN.localized”rm -R “/Applications/Final Cut Pro Additional Easy Setups.localized/English.localized/Apple ProRes 422 (HQ) NTSC 48 kHz Anamorphic.fcpre
7. /Applications/Final Cut Pro Additional Easy Setups.localized/English.localized/Apple ProRes 422 (HQ) NTSC 48 kHz.fcpre
8. /Applications/Final Cut Pro Additional Easy Setups.localized/English.localized/Apple ProRes 422 (LT) NTSC 48 kHz Anamorphic.fcpre
9. /Applications/Final Cut Pro Additional Easy Setups.localized/English.localized/Apple ProRes 422 (LT) NTSC 48 kHz.fcpre
10. /Applications/Final Cut Pro Additional Easy Setups.localized/English.localized/Apple ProRes 422 (Proxy) NTSC 48 kHz Anamorphic.fcpre
11. /Applications/Final Cut Pro Additional Easy Setups.localized/English.localized/Apple ProRes 422 (Proxy) NTSC 48 kHz.fcpre
12. /Applications/Final Cut Pro Additional Easy Setups.localized/English.localized/Apple ProRes 422 NTSC 48 kHz Anamorphic.fcpre
13. /Applications/Final Cut Pro Additional Easy Setups.localized/English.localized/Apple ProRes 422 NTSC 48 kHz.fcpre
14. /Applications/Final Cut Pro Additional Easy Setups.localized/English.localized/Cinema Tools – 23.98fps from DV NTSC.fcpre
15. /Applications/Final Cut Pro Additional Easy Setups.localized/English.localized/Cinema Tools – 24fps from DV NTSC.fcpre
16. /Applications/Final Cut Pro Additional Easy Setups.localized/English.localized/Cinema Tools – DV NTSC NDF.fcpre
17. /Applications/Final Cut Pro Additional Easy Setups.localized/English.localized/DV-NTSC 24p (23.98) Advanced Pulldown Removal.fcpre
18. /Applications/Final Cut Pro Additional Easy Setups.localized/English.localized/DV-NTSC 24p (23.98).fcpre
19. /Applications/Final Cut Pro Additional Easy Setups.localized/English.localized/DV-NTSC Anamorphic.fcpre
20. /Applications/Final Cut Pro Additional Easy Setups.localized/English.localized/DV-NTSC FireWire Basic.fcpre
21. /Applications/Final Cut Pro Additional Easy Setups.localized/English.localized/DV50 – NTSC.fcpre
22. /Applications/Final Cut Pro Additional Easy Setups.localized/English.localized/DV50 NTSC 24p (23.98).fcpre
23. /Applications/Final Cut Pro Additional Easy Setups.localized/English.localized/DV50 NTSC Anamorphic.fcpre
24. /Applications/Final Cut Pro Additional Easy Setups.localized/English.localized/IMX NTSC (30 Mbps).fcpre
25. /Applications/Final Cut Pro Additional Easy Setups.localized/English.localized/IMX NTSC (40 Mbps).fcpre
26. /Applications/Final Cut Pro Additional Easy Setups.localized/English.localized/IMX NTSC (50 Mbps).fcpre
27. /Applications/Final Cut Pro Additional Easy Setups.localized/English.localized/OfflineRT NTSC 24fps.fcpre
28. /Applications/Final Cut Pro Additional Easy Setups.localized/English.localized/OfflineRT NTSC 24p (23.98).fcpre
29. /Applications/Final Cut Pro Additional Easy Setups.localized/English.localized/OfflineRT NTSC Anamorphic.fcpre
30. /Applications/Final Cut Pro Additional Easy Setups.localized/English.localized/Uncompressed 8-bit NTSC 48 kHz.fcpre
31. /Applications/Final Cut Pro Additional Easy Setups.localized/English.localized/Uncompressed 10-bit NTSC 48 kHz.fcpre
32. /Library/Application Support/Final Cut Pro System Support/Custom Settings/Apple ProRes 422 (HQ) NTSC 48 kHz Anamorphic.fcpre
33. /Library/Application Support/Final Cut Pro System Support/Custom Settings/Apple ProRes 422 (HQ) NTSC 48 kHz.fcpre
34. /Library/Application Support/Final Cut Pro System Support/Custom Settings/Apple ProRes 422 (LT) NTSC 48 kHz Anamorphic.fcpre
35. /Library/Application Support/Final Cut Pro System Support/Custom Settings/Apple ProRes 422 (LT) NTSC 48 kHz.fcpre
36. /Library/Application Support/Final Cut Pro System Support/Custom Settings/Apple ProRes 422 (Proxy) NTSC 48 kHz Anamorphic.fcpre
37. /Library/Application Support/Final Cut Pro System Support/Custom Settings/Apple ProRes 422 (Proxy) NTSC 48 kHz.fcpre
38. /Library/Application Support/Final Cut Pro System Support/Custom Settings/Apple ProRes 422 NTSC 48 kHz Anamorphic.fcpre
39. /Library/Application Support/Final Cut Pro System Support/Custom Settings/Apple ProRes 422 NTSC 48 kHz.fcpre
40. /Library/Application Support/Final Cut Pro System Support/Custom Settings/Cinema Tools – 23.98fps from DV NTSC.fcpre
41. /Library/Application Support/Final Cut Pro System Support/Custom Settings/Cinema Tools – 24fps from DV NTSC.fcpre
42. /Library/Application Support/Final Cut Pro System Support/Custom Settings/Cinema Tools – DV NTSC NDF.fcpre
43. /Library/Application Support/Final Cut Pro System Support/Custom Settings/DV-NTSC 24p (23.98) Advanced Pulldown Removal.fcpre
44. /Library/Application Support/Final Cut Pro System Support/Custom Settings/DV-NTSC 24p (23.98).fcpre
45. /Library/Application Support/Final Cut Pro System Support/Custom Settings/DV-NTSC Anamorphic.fcpre
46. /Library/Application Support/Final Cut Pro System Support/Custom Settings/DV-NTSC FireWire Basic.fcpre
47. /Library/Application Support/Final Cut Pro System Support/Custom Settings/DV50 – NTSC.fcpre
48. /Library/Application Support/Final Cut Pro System Support/Custom Settings/DV50 NTSC 24p (23.98).fcpre
49. /Library/Application Support/Final Cut Pro System Support/Custom Settings/DV50 NTSC Anamorphic.fcpre
50. /Library/Application Support/Final Cut Pro System Support/Custom Settings/IMX NTSC (30 Mbps).fcpre
51. /Library/Application Support/Final Cut Pro System Support/Custom Settings/IMX NTSC (40 Mbps).fcpre
52. /Library/Application Support/Final Cut Pro System Support/Custom Settings/IMX NTSC (50 Mbps).fcpre
53. /Library/Application Support/Final Cut Pro System Support/Custom Settings/OfflineRT NTSC 24fps.fcpre
54. /Library/Application Support/Final Cut Pro System Support/Custom Settings/OfflineRT NTSC 24p (23.98).fcpre
55. /Library/Application Support/Final Cut Pro System Support/Custom Settings/OfflineRT NTSC Anamorphic.fcpre
56. /Library/Application Support/Final Cut Pro System Support/Custom Settings/Uncompressed 8-bit NTSC 48 kHz.fcpre
57. /Library/Application Support/Final Cut Pro System Support/Custom Settings/Uncompressed 10-bit NTSC 48 kHz.fcpre

Now that’s a lot of work!

A Note Before We Proceed Further

So, in addition to the above, the client requested a system where the NTSC presets can be re-added if needed on a Mac-by-Mac basis. Before removing the above files, I dragged and dropped the items I was to remove, into a Composer packaging session and made an installer package to replace these files. Job done!

Automation

So to repeat these steps over and over again for each Mac is a pain, so I created a shell script to do the donkey work for me!

#!/bin/bash
 
# This script has been created by Darren @ Amsys
# 0208 660 7750 - servicedesk@amsys.co.uk
# This script goes through the FCP 7 folders and removes and NTSC presetfiles to stop these being shown to the user
 
# This script is provide 'as-is' with no guarantees or warranties on its use
 
rm -R "/Applications/Final Cut Pro.app/Contents/Resources/English.lproj/Final Cut Pro Settings/Hardware Settings/DV - NTSC*.fcpre"
rm -R "/Applications/Final Cut Pro.app/Contents/Resources/English.lproj/Final Cut Pro Settings/Hardware Settings/OfflineRT - NTSC*.fcpre"
 
rm -R "/Applications/Final Cut Pro Additional Easy Setups.localized/French.localized"
rm -R "/Applications/Final Cut Pro Additional Easy Setups.localized/German.localized"
rm -R "/Applications/Final Cut Pro Additional Easy Setups.localized/Japanese.localized"
rm -R "/Applications/Final Cut Pro Additional Easy Setups.localized/zh_CN.localized"
 
rm -R "/Applications/Final Cut Pro Additional Easy Setups.localized/English.localized/Apple ProRes 422 (HQ) NTSC 48 kHz Anamorphic.fcpre"
rm -R "/Applications/Final Cut Pro Additional Easy Setups.localized/English.localized/Apple ProRes 422 (HQ) NTSC 48 kHz.fcpre"
rm -R "/Applications/Final Cut Pro Additional Easy Setups.localized/English.localized/Apple ProRes 422 (LT) NTSC 48 kHz Anamorphic.fcpre"
rm -R "/Applications/Final Cut Pro Additional Easy Setups.localized/English.localized/Apple ProRes 422 (LT) NTSC 48 kHz.fcpre"
rm -R "/Applications/Final Cut Pro Additional Easy Setups.localized/English.localized/Apple ProRes 422 (Proxy) NTSC 48 kHz Anamorphic.fcpre"
rm -R "/Applications/Final Cut Pro Additional Easy Setups.localized/English.localized/Apple ProRes 422 (Proxy) NTSC 48 kHz.fcpre"
rm -R "/Applications/Final Cut Pro Additional Easy Setups.localized/English.localized/Apple ProRes 422 NTSC 48 kHz Anamorphic.fcpre"
rm -R "/Applications/Final Cut Pro Additional Easy Setups.localized/English.localized/Apple ProRes 422 NTSC 48 kHz.fcpre"
rm -R "/Applications/Final Cut Pro Additional Easy Setups.localized/English.localized/Cinema Tools - 23.98fps from DV NTSC.fcpre"
rm -R "/Applications/Final Cut Pro Additional Easy Setups.localized/English.localized/Cinema Tools - 24fps from DV NTSC.fcpre"
rm -R "/Applications/Final Cut Pro Additional Easy Setups.localized/English.localized/Cinema Tools - DV NTSC NDF.fcpre"
rm -R "/Applications/Final Cut Pro Additional Easy Setups.localized/English.localized/DV-NTSC 24p (23.98) Advanced Pulldown Removal.fcpre"
rm -R "/Applications/Final Cut Pro Additional Easy Setups.localized/English.localized/DV-NTSC 24p (23.98).fcpre"
rm -R "/Applications/Final Cut Pro Additional Easy Setups.localized/English.localized/DV-NTSC Anamorphic.fcpre"
rm -R "/Applications/Final Cut Pro Additional Easy Setups.localized/English.localized/DV-NTSC FireWire Basic.fcpre"
rm -R "/Applications/Final Cut Pro Additional Easy Setups.localized/English.localized/DV50 - NTSC.fcpre"
rm -R "/Applications/Final Cut Pro Additional Easy Setups.localized/English.localized/DV50 NTSC 24p (23.98).fcpre"
rm -R "/Applications/Final Cut Pro Additional Easy Setups.localized/English.localized/DV50 NTSC Anamorphic.fcpre"
rm -R "/Applications/Final Cut Pro Additional Easy Setups.localized/English.localized/IMX NTSC (30 Mbps).fcpre"
rm -R "/Applications/Final Cut Pro Additional Easy Setups.localized/English.localized/IMX NTSC (40 Mbps).fcpre"
rm -R "/Applications/Final Cut Pro Additional Easy Setups.localized/English.localized/IMX NTSC (50 Mbps).fcpre"
rm -R "/Applications/Final Cut Pro Additional Easy Setups.localized/English.localized/OfflineRT NTSC 24fps.fcpre"
rm -R "/Applications/Final Cut Pro Additional Easy Setups.localized/English.localized/OfflineRT NTSC 24p (23.98).fcpre"
rm -R "/Applications/Final Cut Pro Additional Easy Setups.localized/English.localized/OfflineRT NTSC Anamorphic.fcpre"
rm -R "/Applications/Final Cut Pro Additional Easy Setups.localized/English.localized/Uncompressed 8-bit NTSC 48 kHz.fcpre"
rm -R "/Applications/Final Cut Pro Additional Easy Setups.localized/English.localized/Uncompressed 10-bit NTSC 48 kHz.fcpre"
 
 
rm -R "/Library/Application Support/Final Cut Pro System Support/Custom Settings/Apple ProRes 422 (HQ) NTSC 48 kHz Anamorphic.fcpre"
rm -R "/Library/Application Support/Final Cut Pro System Support/Custom Settings/Apple ProRes 422 (HQ) NTSC 48 kHz.fcpre"
rm -R "/Library/Application Support/Final Cut Pro System Support/Custom Settings/Apple ProRes 422 (LT) NTSC 48 kHz Anamorphic.fcpre"
rm -R "/Library/Application Support/Final Cut Pro System Support/Custom Settings/Apple ProRes 422 (LT) NTSC 48 kHz.fcpre"
rm -R "/Library/Application Support/Final Cut Pro System Support/Custom Settings/Apple ProRes 422 (Proxy) NTSC 48 kHz Anamorphic.fcpre"
rm -R "/Library/Application Support/Final Cut Pro System Support/Custom Settings/Apple ProRes 422 (Proxy) NTSC 48 kHz.fcpre"
rm -R "/Library/Application Support/Final Cut Pro System Support/Custom Settings/Apple ProRes 422 NTSC 48 kHz Anamorphic.fcpre"
rm -R "/Library/Application Support/Final Cut Pro System Support/Custom Settings/Apple ProRes 422 NTSC 48 kHz.fcpre"
rm -R "/Library/Application Support/Final Cut Pro System Support/Custom Settings/Cinema Tools - 23.98fps from DV NTSC.fcpre"
rm -R "/Library/Application Support/Final Cut Pro System Support/Custom Settings/Cinema Tools - 24fps from DV NTSC.fcpre"
rm -R "/Library/Application Support/Final Cut Pro System Support/Custom Settings/Cinema Tools - DV NTSC NDF.fcpre"
rm -R "/Library/Application Support/Final Cut Pro System Support/Custom Settings/DV-NTSC 24p (23.98) Advanced Pulldown Removal.fcpre"
rm -R "/Library/Application Support/Final Cut Pro System Support/Custom Settings/DV-NTSC 24p (23.98).fcpre"
rm -R "/Library/Application Support/Final Cut Pro System Support/Custom Settings/DV-NTSC Anamorphic.fcpre"
rm -R "/Library/Application Support/Final Cut Pro System Support/Custom Settings/DV-NTSC FireWire Basic.fcpre"
rm -R "/Library/Application Support/Final Cut Pro System Support/Custom Settings/DV50 - NTSC.fcpre"
rm -R "/Library/Application Support/Final Cut Pro System Support/Custom Settings/DV50 NTSC 24p (23.98).fcpre"
rm -R "/Library/Application Support/Final Cut Pro System Support/Custom Settings/DV50 NTSC Anamorphic.fcpre"
rm -R "/Library/Application Support/Final Cut Pro System Support/Custom Settings/IMX NTSC (30 Mbps).fcpre"
rm -R "/Library/Application Support/Final Cut Pro System Support/Custom Settings/IMX NTSC (40 Mbps).fcpre"
rm -R "/Library/Application Support/Final Cut Pro System Support/Custom Settings/IMX NTSC (50 Mbps).fcpre"
rm -R "/Library/Application Support/Final Cut Pro System Support/Custom Settings/OfflineRT NTSC 24fps.fcpre"
rm -R "/Library/Application Support/Final Cut Pro System Support/Custom Settings/OfflineRT NTSC 24p (23.98).fcpre"
rm -R "/Library/Application Support/Final Cut Pro System Support/Custom Settings/OfflineRT NTSC Anamorphic.fcpre"
rm -R "/Library/Application Support/Final Cut Pro System Support/Custom Settings/Uncompressed 8-bit NTSC 48 kHz.fcpre"
rm -R "/Library/Application Support/Final Cut Pro System Support/Custom Settings/Uncompressed 10-bit NTSC 48 kHz.fcpre"
 
 
exit 0

In case the formatting is changed when it’s posted, I’ve also included the script as a downloadable file.

Usage

Simply run this script manually or using ARD on your clients, package it up in a payload-free installer and again, run manually or push out via ARD, load into Munki as a post-flight script for your FCP 7 install, or load into Casper as a script and run it as a policy.

Summary

There you go, I know it’s an old piece of software but it does have its uses and hopefully this will save one of you some time and effort if you end up in the same situation!

As always, if you have any questions, queries or comments, let us know below and I’ll try to respond to and delve into as many as I can.

P.S.

Well this Friday (25th July 2014) is our annual Amsys System Administrators Conference and this year will be my first year attending! The plan is for me to be a support-presenter to Hugo Costa on the Deployment and Management sessions.

Feel free to ask any questions you may have and I’ll do my very best to answer them!

Why Apple Training is now more important than ever

Following Apple and IBM’s announcement last week about their new global enterprise partnership, it has never been more important that your technical staff and users have the right skills, tools and support to manage, deploy and secure your Apple devices.

This new partnership has set a clear, resounding precedent. Apple is serious about taking a big, big slice of the enterprise market.

In fact, earlier this month, VMWARE predicted Apple’s impending invasion of the enterprise, “as BYOC and BYOD continue to transform the enterprise, Macs have become a popular and preferred option compared to Windows PCs.”

Indeed, one key reason attributed to a surge in the adoption of Apple devices in the enterprise, is the increasing demands placed by the employee and senior management for Apple devices, rather than the IT personnel.

A trend that Apple recognised back in 2007 when they first launched the iPhone whereby they effectively ignored “corporate IT departments”  and instead opted to market directly to consumers.

Evidently, this tactic has worked. The iOS operating system is now already used in “92% of Fortune 500 Companies,” with the typical user citing that they “are just easier to use than their Windows-based counterparts.”

With 75% of IT administrators stating that they believe Macs are harder to support than Windows, where does this leave the corporate IT department?

When, four years ago, Apple discontinued the much loved Xserve, and along with it their popular System Administrator certifications, Apple IT professionals were left in the dark as to how they would continue to learn how to efficiently, and cost effectively, support and manage Apple Devices.

Our own team recognised this issue, which is why we continue to develop and teach our range of Mac Admin and iOS Deployment in the enterprise courses.

For more information about our OS X and iOS training courses, and how they can benefit your organisation, speak to our friendly, expert Apple Certified Training team today.

Amsys joins Cisco’s “Meraki Elevate Partner Programme”

meraki elevate partner

Meraki, the market leading cloud networking tool, provides cloud controlled WI-FI, routing and security products for wired and wireless networks. Organisations that choose Meraki to bolster their networking infrastructure can dramatically alter and improve their WI-FI landscape and centralised management capabilities.

Consequently, Meraki has taken both enterprise and education markets by storm as demonstrated by their current client portfolio. Touting high profile brands such as global shopping centre, Westfields, retail giant United Colors of Benetton UK and the prestigious, Stanford University as having already embraced Meraki as their networking tool of choice.

With Meraki installed, a network administrator can manage a large network, across several locations, from one centrally managed point. Quickly allowing for greater visibility and control, while cutting costs and complexity associated with traditional enterprise networks.

By adding the Meraki partnership to the Amsys portfolio of services we can now extend our offerings to a wider range of enterprise and education clients on a national scale.

Peter Lewsey, Amsys’ Strategic Accounts Director, and initiator of the Amsys/Meraki partnership is excited about the opportunities that this new relationship brings, stating:

“Having recognised Meraki’s scalable nature, we have been working with our  SME and Education clients so that they too can enjoy the benefits of this secure, easy to manage and cost saving cloud networking solution.”

To find out how your industry peers are already using Meraki, and the benefits the solutions can deliver for your organisation, please watch this free webinar presented by our partners at Cisco Meraki.

3 tips to improve the performance of your Mac

We all know that Macs offer fantastic performance and that the Mac OS is the most secure and efficient operating system out there, however there may come a time when you notice your Mac is running a little slowly, or not performing as well as it once did.

Let us take you through a few simple steps that can help improve performance and keep your Mac in tip top healthy condition.

Software Updates

Software updates are an essential part of the upkeep in maintaining a healthy Mac. They provide you with new features as well as under the hood fixes and bug repairs.

Software updates released by the App Store also come with release notes detailing what the update includes. It’s always worth having a quick read to see what is being improved.

os x software updates

Within system preferences, there is an option for “App Store” which  allows your Mac to check for updates automatically in the background or download them automatically. This is a very useful feature as it saves you having to open the App Store all the time and manually check for the next update.

app store preferences

Perform Regular Maintenance

Maintenance is essential to making sure your Mac is running as smoothly as possible. One of your top priorities should be ensuring your data is regularly backed up, especially if your device uses a standard hard drive.

Hard drives are mechanical parts and will eventually wear out over time, but there are some simple steps to help minimise this process.

Solid State Drives are better as they use “flash storage” for saving and storing your data. However, they can still suffer from issues. Therefore, you will still need to make sure you maintain your Mac as best as you can.

By using the recovering partition on your OS, you can easily manage the maintenance of your device.

To boot to the recovery partition you will need to start your Mac and hold the option key on your keyboard until the machine boots to the startup manager.

Once booted, open “Disk Utility” (you can also open this from the utilities folder inside the application folder on your startup disc.)

On the left of the disk utility window, you will see your device’s internal disc. In this case, it’s called Macintosh HD. Underneath,“Macintosh HD” you will see all your different disc volumes, in this example I just have the one Macintosh HD.

mac recovery partition

With the internal disc selected, you will have two options ‘Verify Disk’ and ‘Repair Disk.’ It’s always best to run verify disk first to check for issues.

With the volume selected, you will see two options ‘Verify Disk Permissions’ and ‘Repair Disk Permissions.’ If you ever experience repeated errors by an application, it’s a safe bet that something is wrong with the disk permissions.

mac disk permissions

The bootable volume will not allow you to use the option ‘Repair Disk’ until you have run ‘Verify Disk’ to see if anything is wrong.

This maintenance is a simple task, taking short amount of time to implement. I would suggest doing this once a month just to ensure that everything is running smoothly.

Hardware

Hardware plays a large role in the performance of your Mac. The first thing to do when your Mac starts to run slowly is to check how much free space you have left on your startup disc.

To see how much space you have left, select the hard drive icon on the desktop, and tap your space bar to open the information window.

You will now see how much space is free on your disc. 20GB is the recommended amount to keep free, anything under that, and your Mac will start to slow.

mac hard drive space

RAM is another component that will affect the performance of your Mac, which will also be determined by the kind of tasks and applications you regularly use. For example, if you do a lot of video and image editing you will need more RAM than your average user!

I’m always asked if more RAM will improve the performance of a Mac. The simple answer is yes, if you have 4GB of RAM and upgrade to 8GB your Mac will have double the memory that can be allocated, resulting in smoother performance.

Each Mac Model has different restraints on its internal disc capacity and the amount of RAM available to that model. To discuss the options and upgrades available for your Mac, please contact our friendly Apple Technicians who will be able to advise you on the best option for you.

If you would like to book your Mac in for an upgrade or repair, please call us on 02008 660 9999 or log your Mac online here

Disclaimer:
While the author has taken care to provide our readers with accurate information, please use your discretion before acting upon information based on the blog post. Amsys will not compensate you in any way whatsoever if you ever happen to suffer a loss/inconvenience/damage because of/while making use of information in this blog.

An interview with Senior System’s Engineer, Johannes Henkel

Ahead of our System Administrators conference later this month, we got in touch with our guest speaker, Johannes Henkel to find out about his role at JAMF Software as a Senior Systems Engineer.

How long have you been working as a systems engineer?

In general for a bit more than 20 years. Right from the very start, my career has always focused on Apple technology. For the last couple of years, I have also worked as an Apple Trainer.

What are the top 3 questions asked by your clients?

Wow – I’m not sure if I could quantify all of them like this.

Most of my customers have very different expectations and, therefore, a variety of questions – as we cover many different aspects of Device Management.

So – there might be some top 3 questions from each client, but overall….?

Let me tell you the top two replies to most technical questions like, “Can I…” or “I can not …”

  1. It depends! ;)
  2. If you do it correctly, it will work as expected!

What’s a typical day like working as systems engineer for JAMF Software?

A typical workday in my role as a Systems Engineer consists of meetings and calls with customers. Help them during the evaluation, so they can get the most out of it. Besides the meetings there is, of course, research and testing for specific challenges that the customer is facing during the evaluation.

Over the next 3 to 5 years, what do you think will be the next big change in our industry?

The big change is already in progress, I believe. Companies will more and more understand that the real value in their company lives in their employees. By giving them the tools to work with, that they actually enjoy working with, is a win not only for the employee but also for the company in terms of productivity and results.

But the really big change for us as IT folks will be, that we won’t – at least on the end user side of things – need to customize so much and put so much effort in it. So it hopefully works how it was intended to work.

I believe we will see more of what we already see: “It just Works!”

IT will stop fighting against the fire and rather start adding value for their end users in terms of better workflows and tools.

What is the best advice you have ever been given?

“Better ask too often how to do something, even if it makes you look stupid, then not to ask and make it wrong.”

What made you decide to get into tech?

For me technology is something fantastic.

Not only can it help us to stop doing things that we just need to do (like mowing the grass) – instead have technology to do it! But it also does allow us so much more communication with each other.

I started back in the days when my brother came back from the US with a solution called “First Class“ which was – back in the days before there was this thing called the “Internet“- an online-platform for people to dial in and communicate with each other.

With the look and feel of a Mac OS 7 Desktop. Great products – still exist I think ;)

What do you do to keep up with changes in your field?

Be surrounded by great people with great knowledge helps. Besides this, I love to be challenged by my customers. That keeps me going. Researching, reading, testing.

If all technology was to cease what would you do?

Pay a lot more attention to my garden and start to grow food ;)

Johannes will be presenting a 45 minute session on using JAMF Software’s Casper Suite in the Enterprise via series of case studies and demonstrations at our annual System Administrators Conference in London.

Limited tickets are still available, so please book today to ensure you don’t miss out on attending this year’s event.

Major Apple Repair workshop refurb complete

As part of our drive to keep improving customer experience and quality standards, we have recently completed a £50k refurbishment of our Apple hardware workshops, as well being awarded the ISO 9001 certification.

Custom made workbenches have been installed, all fully equipped with easier access to diagnostic tools and full electrostatic discharge protection measures.

The refurbishment has created a space that has not only increased our capacity, but created room for further, rigorous testing of those hard to isolate issues. What’s more, our new and improved, modern workstations increases Amsys’ high standards, ensuring that all devices are repaired in a clean and dust-free environment.

Alex Hawes, our Managing Director, explains:

“A couple of months ago we embarked on a major project to improve quality standards. We put an ISO 9001 quality management program in place, and I am delighted that the award of that quality standard has coincided with the completion of the refurbishment project.

We have created a much more attractive work environment for our qualified technicians, and we are all committed to delivering the best customer experience in the market.”

apple care repair workshop

apple repair workshop

apple certified repair workshop

amsys repair workshop

For more information about Apple hardware repairs, for both Apple Care and out of warranty repairs, please contact support@amsys.co.uk or call 020 8660 9999.

Using Apple’s “Color Picker” in Pages 5, Numbers 3, & Keynote 6 (iWork 2013)

Last week whilst teaching Apple’s iWork course, we were discussing Apple’s Color Picker and came across some changes in the latest versions of Apple’s Pages, Numbers and Keynote apps.

For those of you who are new to the Apple world, the ‘Color Picker’ relates to the ‘floating window’ that appears in front of documents you are working on to allow you to fine tune the colours you want to set for your text, objects, shapes, etc. The “Color Picker” default window is shown below:

colour picker iwork 2014

Most Apple Applications utilise the Color Picker. For example, Apple’s iWork suite of Keynote, Pages and Numbers. But also built-in apps such as Mail and TextEdit. There are even some third-party apps like Photoshop, which can tap into Apple’s Color Picker.

The easiest way to access the Color Picker is to use the short-cut keys of Command-Shift-C. You can then select the item you wish to modify its colours and have full control of your colour features.

However, there has always been ‘clickable’ ways to open this useful tool too.
One ‘clickable’ option is to either select the Applications’ main ‘View’ menu and select ‘Show Colors’, or select the Applications’ main ‘Format’ menu then select ‘Show Colors’:

show colours iwork

format options iwork

The other ‘clickable’ option was to simply click on the Color Picker’s icon in your document toolbar or inspector window:

Now, last October, Apple released their all new graphical versions of their iWork suite with the releases of Pages 5, Numbers 3, and Keynote 6. On first use of all 3 of these apps, there is a concern that the Color Picker is no longer available to access since the inspectors are gone. Yes, you can still use the above-mentioned short-cut keys or pull-down menu option, but the ‘quick-click’ Color Picker icon seems to have gone!

Don’t panic, it is still there, you just need to know where to look!

So, here’s what we discovered in the class.

Please note: The below is documented for Keynote version 6. However, this works just the same for Pages version 5 and Numbers version 3.

(Most or all of these steps and features may also apply to any Apple app that utilisies the Color Picker).

1) If you select an image object and wish to change its colour, (as shown below by the ‘Star shape’ in the following screenshot), you would instinctively then click on the ‘Format’ options (Paintbrush icon) in the toolbar and then select the ‘Style’ tab:

keynote formatting

2) You would then assume that clicking on the ‘Fill’ colour option would allow you to access the Color Picker since the helpful pop up states you can ‘click to choose a preset colour’:

color picker keynote 6

3) Alas, the ‘Fill’ option only offers you a preset collection of colours to choose from and no option to open the extensive granular Color Picker:

current fill keynote

4) The good news is that if you click the disclosure triangle in front of the ‘Fill’ option’s title, this increases your object colour options.

If you now ensure that you have selected ‘Color Fill’ or any other option apart from ‘No Fill’ or ‘Image Fill’ from the first pull down menu, you will now be able to see and click on the Color Picker’s small colour palette icon as shown below :

no fill keynote

Phew, it’s still there!

While we are talking about the Color Picker and now know how to get access to it, I thought I’d mention some useful features of the Color Picker that the students in my class found very useful.

Once you have access to the Color Picker, you can store your favourite customised colours into the small white cells (or boxes) at the bottom of the window.

This is easily done by using the different colour palettes at the top of the Color Picker window to create your perfect colour. Then, you can just drag and drop this colour from the main colour bar section into a vacant white cell at the bottom of the window as demonstrated in the following video:

 

You will notice that there’s a limited amount of white cells to add your custom colours to. Not to worry!

All you need to do is drag the small dot at the bottom of the window downwards to reveal up to 10 rows of 30 cells, (300 custom colours!)

custom colours keynote

Ok, so now you have some lovely custom colours, but you decide that you want to remove some of the colours that you have added.

Hmm, this isn’t as obvious since selecting a colour cell and then pressing the backspace key or trying to control/right-click the mouse button doesn’t do it. You can either drag any empty ‘white’ cell onto your coloured cell to clear it, or select white in the Color Picker area and drag this white colour OVER the cell. (These ‘empty’ cell colours are just WHITE colour cells by default).

Another useful thing to know is that these custom colour cells are global. Meaning once you have configured this in ANY Apple Color Picker, you will immediately be able to apply these custom colours in EVERY other application that uses Apple’s Color Picker! Cool!

So configure this in Keynote, it’s available in Numbers, or Mail or TextEdit!

Right. Another useful feature is the ‘Magnifying Glass’ at the top left of the Color Picker window.

After selecting this with your mouse, you can click on ANY object in your document to add an existing object’s colour to your Color Picker window and then add this to your custom colour cells.

Let’s look at an example. Let’s say that I want to change the colour of the ‘Star’ shape in my keynote slide to the precise Red of the Amsys logo.

All I need to do is open the Color Picker, select the ‘Magnifying Glass’ icon, and now my mouse is a magnifying glass ready to discover any color I want. I can click on the Amsys logo to grab the exact red and add it into my Color Picker:

amsys keynote course

I can now drag this red down into my custom color cells to always be able to apply the Amsys red to anything! Hurray!

Oh, in case you didn’t know, the ‘Magnifying Glass’ can actually be used to select ANYTHING on your Mac in ANY application to capture the colour into your Color Picker, not just the document you are working on! Try it out. Fancy the blue colour that Apple use for the Mail app? Why not add this to your custom colours!

apple mail colour

Finally. I wanted to mention an issue some people have found trying to apply the custom colour to an object in these new versions of Apple’s iWork suite.

Imagine you have opened the Color Picker, got your custom colour ready and have clicked the shape or text box that you want to apply this colour to. You have double-clicked the colour in the colour well but your shape or text hasn’t changed color, but the Color Picker color has changed.

To resolve this. All you need to do is simply close the Color Picker window, re-select/highlight the shape or text you want to change the colour of, and then re-open the Color Picker.

If you attempt to change the colour of an object using an existing Color Picker window, it probably won’t work. The Color Picker relates to the object selected BEFORE you open the Color Picker window.

Instead of closing and reopening it, you can also just click on the Color Picker icon until it is highlighted, as shown by the BLUE highlighted Color Picker icon below:

custom colour picker iwork

I hope you have found this blog useful.

If you would like to learn more about Apple’s iWork apps or just the Mac in general, then take a look at our collection of Creative and introductory training courses.

We have a dedicated 1-day Keynote course and also offer Apple’s 2-day Apple Certified Associate iWork course and exam.

Disclaimer:

While the author has taken care to provide our readers with accurate information, please use your discretion before acting upon information based on the blog post. Amsys will not compensate you in any way whatsoever if you ever happen to suffer a loss/inconvenience/damage because of/while making use of information in this blog.

This feature has been tested using OS X Mavericks v10.9.3 which was the latest Mac OS release at the time of writing.

Guest speaker announced at the Amsys Conference

We are delighted to annjamf softwareounce that this year’s conference will now also include a new 45 minute session, led by Johannes Henkel, a Senior Systems Engineer from JAMF Software.

During this session, Johannes will introduce JAMF Software’s, “Casper Suite,” as well as discussing various scenarios working as a systems engineer for their enterprise clients via a mixture of demos and case studies.

Johannes will also be joining our panel to answer your system admin related questions.

What’s more.. we haven’t had to reduce length of any of the other sessions, so if you are one of the many people who have already booked, don’t worry, as all this means is that you will be getting even more value at this year’s conference!

Amsys System Administrators Conference Schedule:

When: 25th July 2014

  • 09:15 – Registration.
  • 09:30 – Session 1: Macs in Education, a Real World Scenario.
  • 10:30 – Demo Session & Coffee Break.
  • 10:45 – Session 2: Mac & iOS Deployment.
  • 11:45 – Session 3: Mac & iOS Security.
  • 12:45 – Lunch.
  • 13:45 – Session 4: JAMF Presentation & Case Study
  • 14:30 – Demo Session & Coffee Break.
  • 14:45 – Session 5: Mac & iOS Management.
  • 15:45 – Session 6: Understanding SSL.
  • 16:45 – Panel to Close.
  • 17:00 – Mac Meetup Network Drinks.

Click here for a summary on each session.

Where: Grand Connaught Rooms, 61-65 Great Queen St, London, WC2B 5DA

Cost: £145 +VAT

Buy tickets online here or book via the form below.

 

Amsys awarded the ISO 9001 Certification

Amsys awarded globally recognised ISO 9001 certification, demonstrating commitment to quality & excellence.

ISO 9001

We are proud to announce that we have been awarded the ISO 9001 certification, the world’s most highly recognised standard for developing and maintaining quality management systems.

Led by Emily Case, Amsys’ Quality Manager, the certification recognises that our policies and procedures comply with the high standard required by ISO 9001 and demonstrate our commitment to quality assurance and customer satisfaction.

Although we already had a number of quality assurance measures in place, it was agreed that the process to achieve ISO certified status would implement a number of ISO standards that would further improve customer satisfaction, efficiency, and therefore the attractiveness of Amsys as the Apple Authorised Service Provider and Training Centre of choice.

With many of our processes independently scored as “well defined” or “excellent”, the audit described Amsys’ quality management system as:

…very well structured and is firmly embedded in the organisation. The product realisation process is well defined with controlled Policies, Processes and Procedures which can all be found within the various Quality Management System Files held on the organization’s shared drive and on the HR People System.”

Furthermore, as part of our drive to improve quality and customer satisfaction, our computer repair workshops have recently undergone a £50,000 refurbishment to create a clean, attractive and modern environment.

Alex, our Managing Director explains, “Not only have we created clean and clinical conditions in which our clients Macs are repaired, but we have improved the working environment for our staff. Both of these factors will help drive continued improvement in quality standards

Looking to the future, we plan to complete further ISO standards including Information Security certification ISO 27001 and Service Management ISO 20001, which will demonstrate our commitment to world class information security and service standards.

For more information about Amsys Apple Services, please contact support@amsys.co.uk or call 020 8660 9999.

Amsys at “Enterprise App World”

Today marks the first day of the “Enterprise App World” exhibition one of the “world’s leading multi-platform events.”

During today and tomorrow our team will showcasing our mobile training and development services, demonstrating just how iBeacons work, plus an incredible prize is up for grabs on both days!

Come visit us at stand #9 to find out about:

  • How iBeacons work.
  • The new development language “Swift.”
    and
  • Amsys Mobile Apps.
  • Amsys iOS Training.

We are also holding a competition where two lucky people will win over £6,500 worth of iOS training  with our “Ultimate iOS Enterprise Training Package!”

Courses include:

  • Beginners Objective-C.
  • Advanced Objective-C.
  • iOS App Dev – The Fundamentals.
  • iOS App Development – Advanced.
  • Beginning Swift Development.

AND

  • iOS Supporting & Troubleshooting.
  • iOS Security & Deployment.

Remember, you’ve gotta be in it to win it! So come and see us at Enterprise Apps World stand #9.

Here’s to the crazy ones

I just love Apple’s attention to detail.

If you remember the Apple campaign “Here’s to the crazy ones”, over the years they have worked the text for that poem into various parts of OS X .

To keep that trend going, they have done the same for the Swift file icon. Nice touch.

swift

Wi-Fi Explorer

There are a number of tools everyone should have at their disposal, Wi-Fi Explorer is one of them.

This great tool from Adrian Granados is the swiss army knife for networking tools on OS X.

No matter your technical level, this tool is really really useful.

At its simplest, when you launch it, it passively sits there scanning for local Wi-Fi networks.

Once these networks have been discovered it displays them in a list format with some basic information about each one. This information includes:

  • The network name
  • Signal strength
  • Channel
  • Band
  • Mode

This is all useful stuff  and you can sort the list based on any of this information. So, for instance in an ideal world your Wi-Fi network should have the strongest signal.

wi-fi-list2

Below this list you get a number of charts which allows you to visualise the networks. The default one is really useful. It creates a chart representing each network found based on signal strength and the channel number. This channel number can be the cause of a lot of Wi-Fi issues. Ideally neighbouring networks should be on different non overlapping channels. The problem you sometimes face is that most Wi-Fi routers ship using the same channel.

Where I live , Virgin Media is the dominant supplier. Its seems every other week a new Wi-Fi network appears. By using this tool I can see which channels are conflicting with the one I am using, it also shows which channels are less congested, allowing me to reach Wi-Fi nirvana.

wi-fi-charts

Beyond the basics, you can take this tool to another level. You can use it to capture a lot more information including:

  • Beacon Interval
  • Data Rate
  • Security mode
  • Encryption mode

You can also filter the list to include secure networks or insecure networks.

This tool has gotten me out of so may scrapes, I can’t recommend it enough.

It’s available from the Mac App Store, priced £1.99

 

 

JAMF Casper Certified Expert

cce certificationCCE Course Overview

Back in early May 2014, I attended (and passed!) one of the first JAMF Casper Certified Expert (CCE) courses outside of the USA.

Mike and Rob (funnily enough, from JAMF) hosted this in the lovely city of Amsterdam near the location of their new(-ish) European support offices.

It is a 4 day course covering all manner of advanced and unusual aspects of configuration, maintaining and troubleshooting Casper based solutions.

As seems to be a reoccurring theme with the JAMF guys, the course was unusual and the examination method strange. The entire course was more a gathering of experienced Casper users / administrators to show off our different methods of tackling the various scenarios proposed and sharing out ideas, much like a conference (such as JNUC – JAMF Nation Users Conference). However this was also interspersed with classroom lessons and exercises.

I also found it a great opportunity to put a few faces to names (such as Ben Toms of the Mac Mule Blog).

My History

Some of you have read my history from one of my previous blogs so I’ll try not to re-tread old ground!

With the advent of Profile Manager and the increase in SCCM capabilities, Mac Admin’s were after a solution that would provide the same functionality, specifically the increased abilities to push out software and updates, as well as advanced reporting and management functionalities. It was my boss, David Acland who led the charge to use JAMF’s Casper solution, thereby meeting these needs for our customers.

Over the next 18-24 months I was provided the opportunity to install and configure from scratch two education sector Casper deployments, both managing between 300 and 600 Macs, as well as assist with maintenance and health checks of another four customer’s sites, three of which being our customer’s, with a fourth ad-hoc, all of which allowed me to both expand my knowledge and experience, and share those qualities with our customers and our internal staff.

With JAMF’s release of their two top qualification courses outside of the USA (CCE and CJA – Certified JSS Administrator), David felt that we both had sufficient experience and knowledge to take the challenge of obtaining these ‘next-level’ certifications, and to gain even more knowledge along the way.

The Future

In the future, I plan to use my new knowledge to continually expand and improve our customer’s Casper deployments and solutions, and continually offer advice where I can, all the time continuing to gain further knowledge and experience. With the CCE course, I now feel more confident with planning and implementing large-scale solutions, and develop solutions utilising advanced tools, such as the REST API tools.

Additionally, and arguably more importantly, I have found new contacts and fellow Mac Admins whom are willing to also share their experiences and solutions either through the use of blogs, and conferences (again JNUC).

Summary

So that’s what I’ve been up to for the last while! I hope it gives you some insight into how we at Amsys work internally, and what JAMF’s CCE offers.

How about your experiences, qualifications, good courses? Casper or Non-Casper? Let us know in the comments below and I’ll try to respond to as many as I can.

The System Administrators Conference 2014

system-admin-conference-2014

The Amsys System Administrators Conference is back for its 6th year. This one day event will incorporate a mixture or seminars, demos and Q&As on range of Apple technologies and 3rd party tools.

This event will focus on, iOS and OS X Deployment, Integration and Management plus a session on OS X Yosemite and iOS 8.

Conference Information:

  • 09:15 – Registration.
  • 09:30 – Session 1: Macs in Education, a Real World Scenario.
  • 10:30 – Demo Session & Coffee Break.
  • 10:45 – Session 2: Mac & iOS Deployment.
  • 11:45 – Session 3: Mac & iOS Security.
  • 12:45 – Lunch.
  • 13:45 – Session 4: JAMF Presentation & Case Study
  • 14:30 – Demo Session & Coffee Break.
  • 14:45 – Session 5: Mac & iOS Management.
  • 15:45 – Session 6: Understanding SSL.
  • 16:45 – Panel to Close.
  • 17:00 – Mac Meetup Network Drinks.

Session 1: Macs in Education, a Real World Scenario. Schools and universities across the world are adopting Apple technologies at an ever increasing rate, in this session David Acland, head of consultancy, will take you on an insider’s guide to a real world installation and integration of 650 + Macs at a large UK university.

Session 2: Mac & iOS Deployment. An in-depth and advanced session on deploying Apple Devices in the enterprise, demonstrating the latest modular deployment tools including AutoPKG, AutoDMG, Puppet, payload free packages, Munki, DeployStudio and typical post deployment scripts.

Session 3: Mac & iOS Security. Security is a hot topic, ever more so following the events of the last year, for both consumers and corporate users. This session will take a look at the processes available to you and what you should be (and should not) doing in order to create a more secure environment for your clients.

Session 4: Mac & iOS Management. We’ll delve into the world of managing a large Mac & iOS estate, which has become increasingly important topic as more organisations integrate Apple devices into their IT infrastructure. This session will include a thorough discussion on delivering configuration profiles using packages, use of the profiles command, using MCXtoProfile, a quick review of the MDM infrastructure and delivering settings via MDM.

Session 5: Understanding SSL. SSL is used in so many technologies but it’s still misunderstood. David Acland, Senior Consultant at Amsys, will take you through how SSL is implemented and why it’s used in so many situations including Mobile Device Management and web solutions. A must for all IT support professionals

Demo Sessions: Hands on OS X and iOS management solution demos will be available for you to try out throughout the day, plus ample opportunity to get your questions answered by our fully certified team.

Panel to Close. Our panel will spend the closing session answering your questions, based on either the topics discussed during the conference, or from your own current experiences.

When: 25th July 2014

Where: Grand Connaught Rooms, 61-65 Great Queen St, London, WC2B 5DA

Cost: £145 +VAT

Buy tickets online here or book via the form below.

Amsys to run the UK’s first Swift iOS development course

swift development training

We’re proud to announce that we have just scheduled our first “Beginning Swift Development” course for the 16th of July in London, the first training centre in the UK to do so.

Swift, which was announced at last week’s WWDC keynote, has been created to make app development an easier, more accessible skill to acquire, as part of Apple’s ambitious drive to encourage more people to “Write the code. And change the world”.

This new 2 day course will be an exciting yet intensive training programme, and has been created by our team of Apple developers and Apple Master IT Trainers. During the course, you will be some of the first in the world to learn the key skills and tools needed to create iOS and OS X apps using Swift.

Although Apple will continue to support Objective-C long into the future, it has been confirmed that all iOS 8 and Yosemite applications will support development using Swift. Therefore, Swift will quickly become a pre-requisite to any budding or seasoned Apple developer’s resume.

Richard Mallion, our IT Director and Head of Mobile, explains:

“We are really excited by the opportunities that Swift bring to the app development market. The simpler structure of the programming language and the new features available to Swift, such as playground, enhance the intuitive and exciting nature of iOS App Development.

Our course, “Beginning Swift Development”, which is exclusive to Amsys, will teach both beginner and intermediate level iOS developers the key “Swift” skills to develop their own Apple Apps.”

The course, which is spread across two days, will be available at both our Manchester and London based Apple Authorised Training Centres. Throughout the course, you will learn fundamental key skills and tools such as:

  • How Swift handles values, strings and characters.
  • What classes are and how to use them.
  • Experiment with playground.
  • Plus an introduction to Xcode and how to manage and compile all your code.
  • If you are already familiar with Objective-C, the course also includes a module on combining Swift into existing apps that are written in Objective-C.

Over the last 4 years we have combined our real world app development experience with our training expertise to deliver a range of iOS development courses. Our new “Beginning Swift Development” course will be a welcome addition to our training schedule, while setting the standard for bringing new and exciting courses to the iOS development training market.

Click here for the full course agenda, and to book this course.

I’m a Swifty

So among the announcements of this year’s Apple Developer Conference was the introduction of a new programming language called “Swift”. It must be said that this took most of the developer community by surprise.

Since the introduction of OS X and iOS, Objective-C/C has been the default programming language used to build apps on these platforms. This language has and still does serve us very well. But they come with a lot of baggage. Objective-C is over 20 years old and C over 30. It must also be said that the Objective-C syntax can be slightly confusing for new developers or developers who are cross training.

So for the past few years Apple has been developing a new, modern programming language, which Swift is the result of. It builds on the best bits of Objective-C/C without the constraints of C compatibility.

What Apple has tried to do, and has achieved, is to make the language simpler and shorter. The less you have to type the better. The code you write is also a lot safer, less prone to errors.

So here are a few hi-lights of this new language

Semi Colons
You no longer need to terminate each line with a semi colon. Thats 10s of thousand of keystrokes saved.

Type Inference
With Objective-C/C, when you create a variable you always have to specify the type of value it stored, whether this was an integer, string or boolean. With Swift you no longer have to do this. Rather than the developer specify the type of data, the compiler infers this based on the data you pass to the variable.

Type Safety
Objective-C is very much a run-time language which means the type of a variable is not really known until the app is running. Swift on the other hand infers type during compilation. The upshot is the compiler can optimise the code much more efficiently, resulting in faster code execution. A win for everyone.

No More Header Files
With Swift, header files are no longer required. Your class interface and implementation are held within one file. These files have a .swift extension.

Tuples
Functions and methods in Objective-C can only return one value. A tuple allows a Swift function to return multiple results.

Mix and Match
You can mix Objective-C/C code with Swift. So if you have an existing app, you don’t need to re-write it from scratch if you want to investigate Swift.

Enumeration
Enumerating through a collection, such as an array or dictionary, is now faster and more flexible

Playgrounds
This is a new feature of the forth coming Xcode 6.  This is how Apple describes Playgrounds.
Playgrounds make writing Swift code incredibly simple and fun. Type a line of code and the result appears immediately. If your code runs over time, for instance through a loop, you can watch its progress in the timeline assistant. The timeline displays variables in a graph, draws each step when composing a view, and can play an animated SpriteKit scene. When you’ve perfected your code in the playground, simply move that code into your project. With playgrounds, you can:

  • Design a new algorithm, watching its results every step of the way
  • Create new tests, verifying they work before promoting into your test suite
  • Experiment with new APIs to hone your Swift coding skills

swift-screenshot

 

If you are an Objective-C developer there is no need to panic. Objective-C is still king, however Swift is clearly the future. For the foreseeable future, Apple will maintain parity between these two languages. One warning though. Apple did make it clear that Swift is brand new and that over time there may be some changes to the language that will require your source code to be modified.

For myself I will still be using Objective-C for all our existing projects and well as all our major projects but as soon as a small project hits my desk, I will be checking out Swift.

Swift will be available when OS X Yosemite and iOS 8 ships in the fall. At that point we will be introducing a number of new training courses based around Swift and iOS 8.

Interested in finding out more about Swift?  Then take our “Beginning Swift Development” course. The first course of its kind in the UK!

iOS 8: Adds new enterprise features

So yesterday was the keynote for Apple’s Developer Conference, where they announce what they are planning for iOS and OS X for the year ahead.

These events are normally exciting but this one in particular, Apple have out done themselves.

Apple introduced iOS 8 and among all the new features, the following are my hi-lights that I feel enterprise/business customers will love.

So in no particular order here are my favourites:

Shared Storage
Third party apps that access server/cloud based storage can now present these documents directly to your app.  So if you have a corporate server, for instance Share Point, you will now have an easier way of accessing your documents.

ios8 shared storage

Mail
Mail has had some love and attention including:

  • Free/Busy support for Exchange calendars.
  • Quick swipe to mark messages as read/unread.
  • Can now designate individual mail threads as VIP.
  • Mark external email addresses in red for additional security.
  • Automatic reply for Exchange accounts.
  • Per message S/MIME controls.

ios8 calendar

Keyboards
In my opinion this is a big one. Android has had the ability for a long time for third party companies to replace the stock keyboard. iOS 8 now supports this. SwiftKey have already announced they are porting their popular keyboard to iOS 8.

Touch ID
Developers now have APIs for Touch ID so third party apps will be able to use the finger print scanner for authentication.

MDM
Apple’s Mobile Device Management solution is quite mature but with iOS 8 we see some new features including:

  • Books and PDFs can now be automatically pushed to iOS 8 devices.
  • Devices can now be renamed over the air.
  • Query the mot recent iCloud backup.
  • Certificate based Single Sign On.
  • Prevent the user from configuring restrictions on the device.
  • Prevent internet searches using Spotlight.
  • Allow/disallow the option to erase all content on the device.
  • Disable apps from storing data on iCloud.

Data Protection
As well as Mail and third party apps, Calendar, Contacts, Reminders, Notes and Messages now have their user credentials protected with a pass code until after the device is unlocked following a reboot.

Our WWDC wish list for 2014

wwdc14-home-branding
With WWDC just around the corner (4 days in fact), the general consensus seems to be that most of the announcements during the keynote will be consumer focussed. Therefore, we thought it was only right to create our own WWDC wish list for the enterprise.

Russell Harris – Apple Master IT Trainer

  • iBeacon support in OS X. Could be useful for laptop users in a corporate environment to receive notifications when they enter a meeting room or hot-desk to a specific location.
  • Bring back Snow Leopard’s Tiered/Limited Administration feature. Mac OS X 10.6 had a feature within Server Admin to allow a non-admin user on the server to ‘Administer’ or ‘Monitor’ a single service or a collection of services. This was removed with OS X 10.7 Lion with the introduction of the server.app. This was a useful feature to perhaps allow a junior tech the ability to configure or monitor a single service but not the entire server. Or, to allow a head of department to be able to monitor a service used by their department but without any ability to modify that service.
  • Admin Webpage for Server.app configuration. Instead of using the Server.app remotely from an admin station, it would be useful to have an https webpage you could authenticate to for certain server changes.
  • Expand on the Time Machine Service’s capabilities, to make this much more than a home user/small business backup solution. For example perhaps allow admins to be able to restore items from a backup to a client from the server without having to use the client’s Time Machine interface. Or allow more granular configuration of what is and what isnt backed up and how often.

David Acland – Technical Director

Cloud accessible Time Capsules - This would help out sites that use Time Capsules so they can access their backups from other locations.

AD integration for the DEP program - So the Mac can allow the user to login with their AD credentials right out of the box.

Cheryl Lancley – Training Operations Manager

I would like to see the release of iOS certifications from Apple. This is something we get asked for all the time by our delegates who would like a certification to complement their iOS development and iOS IT training with us. Fingers crossed for 2014/15!

Darren Wallace – Senior Mac Consultant

I have an extensive list, so my top 5 are:

  • Have the DEP available over here in Europe.
  • Merge software update services and caching services into one. This would be a tweak-able service.
  • Adding the ability to replicate/cluster Apple Profile Manager. Like you used to be able to do with Open Directory/MCXs.
  • Give the Apple Remote Desktop some TLC.
  • Return the ‘once’, ‘often’, ‘always’, options into Profile Manager that we used to be able to use with MCXs.

Richard Mallion – IT Director

As well as what’s on my iOS 8 wish list, I also have the following to add:

  • A way of accessing features that currently require the device to be supervised. For example disabling activation lock.
  • An easier way to unlock a corporate phone, for example if the user has the phone as activation lock and the user has left without leaving their credentials.
  • API’s for SIRI and TouchID.
  • Another way (more open way) to supervise the tool rather than using Apple Configurator. Over the air would be nice.
  • Using iBeacon for an auto configuration solution.
  • Better management options for AppleIDs. For instance the ability to merge existing accounts. Or have two accounts linked, but one clearly marked as for work and the other for home.
  • The ability to set a default app for a specific task.

We want to hear what you want, so please feel free to add your own suggestions in the comments below…

Don’t forget your can watch the keynote live with us in London, on Monday.

Munki Report PHP introduction and installation

And I’m back on Munki posts!

What can I say? – There’s no escaping such a versatile and free tool!

So you’ve got your Munki solution up and running with a bunch of installers and maybe some settings packaged and loaded, with multiple manifests and all running smoothly.

Or is it?

  • How can you tell what client Macs are running what software?
  • What version?
  • Are some having issues installing updates via Munki?

Out of the box, Munki does not have the ability to provide this information to you, requiring you to visit each Mac individually to check its status. That’s where Munki Report PHP comes in.

Munki Report PHP (MRPHP) is based on a previous project called Munki Report but rewritten in PHP. Installation is pretty straightforward and the results are a clear and information set of lists and graphs giving you a summary of your Munki Estate.

Today’s Munki Guide

In this post, I’ll be looking to show you how to configure the server components to this solution. In a follow up, I’ll show you how to configure your client Macs and give a brief tour of the solution.

The setup is the same as for my previous Munki posts but using Mac OS X 10.9.2, Server 3.1.1 and I am using the server Mac as a client too for the demo.

Additional information can be found on the Munki Report PHP site.

Disclaimer:

While the author has taken care to provide our readers with accurate information, please use your discretion before acting upon information based on the blog post. Amsys will not compensate you in any way whatsoever if you ever happen to suffer a loss/inconvenience/damage because of/while making use of information in this blog.

Guide

You have your Mac Server installed and configured with 10.9.2 and Server app 3.1.1. This has both forward and reverse lookups configured and working fine. I will also assume that you have already followed all the steps in the original Munki guide parts 1 to 5, e.g. you have a fully working Munki Repo Server, Administration Server and Client.

Downloading and Installing the Munki Report PHP Server

1. Open your favourite web-browser and navigate to https://github.com/munkireport/munkireport-php.
2. If you’re happy to do so, using ‘git’ to pull down the project files. If not, click the “Download ZIP” icon on the right hand side.

 

munki report php

3. Once downloaded, go to your Downloads folder (Note: This may be different if you are using a Web Browser other than Safari to follow this guide) and unzip the downloaded project directory.

 

munki report downloads

4. We need to transfer the contents of this folder (e.g. all of the stuff inside the “munkireport-php-master” folder) into the root level of our website folder (by default, this will be “/Library/Server/Web/Data/Sites/Default/”. The easiest way to do this is to drag and drop. The end result should look like this:

 

munki php report master

Configuring the Munki Report PHP Server

5. Navigate to the root directory of the Web site and find the newly copied “config_default.php”. Duplicate this file and call the new version “config.php”. By default (as the name implies), the config_default file is used for the default settings whilst if you need / want to make any changes it should be done in the config file.

6. Make any required changes you need to this new config file. As-is, it should work fine but it’s always worth taking a look and seeing if there are any changes you want to make, such as Proxy settings. Once complete, close and save this file.

7. Next we need to correct / set some permissions on the ./app/db directory. The web server user (_www) needs to have read / write access to this directory. Simply run the below command to set this up:

sudo chown –R _www /Library/Server/Web/Data/Sites/Default/app/db

8. Go back to the Server.app, launch it if needed, and go to the main “Websites” section.

9. Tick the “Enable PHP web applications” box. Quit the server App.

 

enable php web applications

Configuring the Munki Report PHP user account

10. So now the server should be up and running but waiting final configuration.

11. Launch a web browser and navigate to the server. I have configured this on the server itself so I navigated to “http://127.0.0.1”. You will be warned that there is no authentication information yet configured.

 

no authentication info

 

12. Enter a desired username and password and click “Generate”. I have used “munkireportadmin” as the username in this example.

 

generate password hash

13. Munki Report PHP will now show you a line you need to add back to your config.php file. Copy this string.

 

generated hash munki report

 

14. Navigate back to your config.php file (“/Library/Server/Web/Data/Sites/Default/config.php”), open it and paste in the string you copied in step 13. Save and close the file.

 

config file munki php

 

15. Reload the web browser page to be presented with a login screen

 

munki report login

 

16. Enter the username and password you created in step 12 and hit Sign in. If all is working fine, you should see the Dashboard with some ‘first run’ messages of the database tables being created.

 

munki-report-dashboard

 

17. And that’s your Munki Report PHP server configured!

 

Summary

So we’re halfway there (well, more than halfway). Next time I’ll show you how to hook up your client Macs to your new server and a brief tour of MRPHP.

Any hints, tips or opinions? Let us know in the comments below and I’ll try to respond to as many as I can.

5 different businesses that are using iBeacons



It has been nearly a whole year since Apple announced the integration of beacon technology with iOS called iBeacons at WWDC. It is important to note that beacons aren’t limited to just iOS technology. The beacons, which are manufactured by a range of different companies including Estimote, can interact with both iOS and Android devices.

Even though initial reactions were ones of privacy concerns for consumers,  a recent survey of 1,300 UK smartphone users by eDigitalResearch demonstrated that 45% of consumers would be “willing to receive retailer messages” to their phones from Beacon technology. Consequently, we have seen a range of exciting new ways in which localization marketing can be transformed by using Beacons.

Shopping Centres

The Swan Centre is the UK’s first shopping centre to embrace iBeacons technology. By integrating iBeacons technology into their existing rewards app, shoppers can now receive localised based content and discounts from retailers, including WHSmiths and Nandos,  without the need for opening up the app or browser, or even have access to WIFI or GPS.

Supermarkets

Waitrose has begun trialling iBeacons in their new concept store in Swindon. Their app has been integrated with iBeacons to send promotions to shoppers browsing the aisles or food counters. The app also allows shoppers to scan barcodes, read reviews, save items to purchase later and pay for their shopping via a mobile wallet.

Restaurants

Popular fast food chain, McDonalds has equipped 30 of its restaurants in Germany with iBeacons. Diners initially scan a qr code and add the coupon card of their local McDonald’s to Apple’s bonus programme Passbook. Now, each time they visit a McDonalds restaurant they will be welcomed with a new offer.

Airliners

Virgin Atlantic are currently piloting iBeacons at Heathrow to improve the customer experience by connecting with Upper Class passengers throughout their journey. Initially, the trial has begun by alerting customers to have their electronic boarding pass ready when approaching the private security channel. Virgin are also exploring other ideas from, alerting staff to drops in temperatures so they can promptly provide passengers with blankets to providing content about their inflight entertainment before boarding their flight.

Healthcare

Nivea have integrated iBeacons with the app StickNFind which helps parents keep an eye on their children whilst visiting the beach! This advert is a fantastic demonstration of innovation and really illustrates the dynamic nature of beacon technology, for work or leisure.

If you would like to find out more about iBeacons, including just how the technology works, the infrastructure required to get started and more case uses, then attend our free seminar next month.

ebay compromised

Ebay are now the latest big name to have been compromised.

“ebay has suffered a security compromise requiring them to have all users change their passwords.”

So far only a press release has been released but eBay will shortly be sending emails out to their users.

If you have an ebay account, we strongly recommend you change your password now.

 

The 1984 Macintosh manual

Check out this beautifully filmed video by designer, Matthew Pearce, which takes a look at the original 1984 Apple Macintosh Manual!

Let us know if you still have, or had, a copy of this manual in the comments section below. We’d love to hear your stories.

What do I want in iOS 8?

So Apple’s annual developer conference is just around the corner and traditionally this is where they unwrap the latest version of iOS and OS X.

iOS has come a long way since 2007 and Apple has covered a lot of the major features required for any modern mobile operating systems.

So here is my wish list for iOS 8.

AirDrop
AirDrop is a fantastic feature. I use it nearly every day sending files from OS X to OS X and from iOS to iOS but what I can’t do is AirDrop a file between OS X and iOS. This would be so useful. At the moment  AirDrop on iOS works in a fundamentally different way to OS X . Mainly is the way devices discover each other. iOS uses bluetooth while OS X uses wireless. I really hope  Apple  makes changes to both iOS 8 and OS X 10.10 so AirDrop is compatible with each other.

Documents
One of the biggest issues we face is how you get documents onto an iOS device and once there how you can move documents between apps. Due to the sandboxing nature of iOS apps there currently is not an elegant way of doing this. Yes we have various methods to do this including iTunes File Sharing, email, iCloud and the “Open In”menu , but I want something a bit more useful. So what I would like to see is something equivalent to the Photos app for documents. This documents app would act like a container or central repository for docs. Docs would be copied to it and then through secure APIs, apps could be granted access to these docs in a similar way apps currently have with the photo library.

Siri
Siri has been around for a few years now, and its gradually become more useful over this time. I would really like to see Apple open up Siri to third party apps. Just image what third party developers could achieve by adding Siri integration to their apps.

Text Edit
I use Text Edit on OS X quite a lot, especially for smaller size text files. Would be nice to have the equivalent for iOS, especially if iCloud could sync between them.

Trusted Location
Android on the Moto X has a great feature where you can specify trusted bluetooth devices or networks. If the phone is connected to one of these then Android relaxes the security. For instance the lock screen is disabled. This is so useful. Why do I want all the security while I am home for instance. Obviously this would be off by default. Going one stage further it would be nice to have something similar to locations on OS X where I could set up profiles for my device. For instance when I’m in the car disable wi-fi but enable bluetooth by selecting a ‘profile’ etc.

An iTunes based payment system
Apple has an extensive payment system for their various stores. It currently has over 800 million credit cards on file. It would be great if they offered API’s so you could make purchases through your iTunes account, similar to PayPal.

So that’s my list. What do you want to see?

 

New track announced for this year’s summer camp!

vilamoura-summer-camp

Due to popular demand we have combined 2 of this year’s tracks into one complete training track.

The same deal applies.

For just £2,695, this all inclusive training event includes; your training (& exams), flights (from UK), accommodation, meals, and transfers (to and from the airport)!

ACTC Advanced Server Admin Track.

Includes:

  • OS X Support Essentials 10.9
  • OS X Server Essentials 10.9
  • Advanced OS X Server
  • Advanced Active Directory Open Directory
  • All exams

Where:

Dom Jose Beach Hotel, Vilamoura, Portugal

When:

18th – 26th June 2014

Interested? Then book today, as spaces are filling up fast.

Fill in the form below to book

Mavericks update – 10.9.3 details

Last night Apple released a new ‘point’ update to their Mac OS X Mavericks Operating System, taking the latest version from 10.9.2 to 10.9.3. The details of this update are below.

Now it has been reported that in some cases this update removes the Users folder on your Mac (/Users). What is actually happening is in some cases the folder is being hidden, not removed. It is still present and can be accessed using the method below.

The main problem with this update is that this behaviour (namely, hiding the User folder) appears to be inconsistent and currently a pattern has not been found. Out of the four Macs we’ve updated in our office, two now have a hidden User folder and two do not. Despite this, all four continue to operate fine and you should not worry if this does / does not happen to you.

However, as always, ensure you have a working backup BEFORE you run updates in case the worst should happen and the update is incompatible with an Application you use.

Accessing your User folder if it is hidden 

1) In the Finder Menu Bar, Click “Go” then “Go To Folder…”

accessing folder 10.9.3

2) In the new Window, type “/Users” and click “Go”.

type users

3) This will open a new Finder window showing you the contents of the Users folder.

open new finder window

Update: No word from Apple, but:

1. Turn off Find My Mac. It only affects Macs with this turned on.
2. Run these commands

sudo chmod 755 /Users
sudo chmod 755 /Users/Shared
sudo chflags nohidden /Users/Shared
sudo chflags nohidden Users

Don’t turn it back on again.

Update 2:

Apple have now released a new small update, iTunes 11.2.1 to fix this issue.

Source

About the update

The OS X Mavericks 10.9.3 Update is recommended for all Mavericks users. It improves the stability, compatibility, and security of your Mac.

This update:

  • Improves 4K display support on Mac Pro (Late 2013) and MacBook Pro with 15-inch Retina Display (Late 2013)
  • Adds the ability to sync contacts and calendars between a Mac and iOS device using a USB connection
  • Improves the reliability of VPN connections using IPsec
  • Resolves an issue that prevented Font Book from installing PostScript Type 1 fonts
  • Improves reliability of copying, editing and inspecting permissions of files on an SMB file server
  • Improves reliability of network home directories Improves stability when installing configuration profiles
  • Improves login speed for users in Active Directory groups
  • Includes Safari 7.0.3

 

Watch WWDC live at the Mac meetup!

wwdc14-home-branding

Watch WWDC Live at the Mac Meetup!
2nd June from 5:30pm in Soho, London

 
The Mac Meetup returns this June for an extra special WWDC event.

Find out first hand what Apple has in store for Apple IT Professionals for 2014, and discuss the announcements with your friends and colleagues, as we will be streaming the WWDC event live.

Plus, everyone who registers online, will receive a free tipple of their choice, plus various nibbles will be laid on courtesy of our MD, Alex.

So register for your ticket today.

Following the live stream, there will be plenty of time to chat with our team as well as other IT professionals from across London about everything that was revealed by Apple.

Mac Meetup Details:

Time: Arrive from 5:30pm
Date: 2nd June 2014
Where: The Warwick 1-3 Warwick Street, London W1B 5LR

So that just leaves one question. What do you think will be announced? We’d be interested to hear your thoughts.

Disk utility tip: Fix ‘couldn’t unmount disk’ errors

I have found myself recently experiencing a couple of Macs which would not allow me to repair the directory or permissions in Disk Utility, or erase/partition the drive with an error such as: ‘Disc erase failed couldn’t unmount disc’ or ‘Disk Erase failed with the error: Couldn’t unmount disk.’

couldnt unmount disk osx

Even trying to use Network Deployment tools such as Apple’s Netinstall service or DeployStudio have also failed to deploy due to these errors.

Normally, any ‘Couldn’t Unmount Disk’ error is attributed to circumstances where the boot drive is being modified or is being used by an application or process. So the first thing to do is to startup the Mac from another bootable drive such as an external drive or OS X Recovery. You can then run Disk Utility from there.

An external drive or a network drive is preferred if it is the internal hard drive you have an issue with, since the OS X Recovery is a partition on the same physical drive which may not be able to successfully unmount or modify your internal disk.

To create your own bootable disk, refer to our blog ‘Creating a Mavericks bootable install disk’.

I would strongly recommend at this stage attempting to back up any data that is required before proceeding with the following steps. Some of the following steps are destructive and will lose ALL data on your drive.

  1. If you have an external bootable disk, connect this to your Mac and power your Mac up whilst holding down the OPTION/ALT key. Then select the desired external drive from the startup manager screen and press the enter key.
  2. If you have used our method above to create a bootable installer, choose ‘Disk Utility’ from the available menu. If you have created your own bootable drive with a full system, open Disk Utility from /Applications/Utilities.
  3. Select the ‘First Aid’ tab and verify the troublesome disk, repairing if needed. Also perform a permissions repair if required.
  4. Attempt again to perform whichever task caused your ‘Couldn’t Unmount Disk’ error. (For example to Erase/Partition the disk).

Still not playing ball?

You can try booting from OS X Recovery (by holding ‘CMD’ + ‘R’ keys at startup) or an external drive and use the command line to attempt to unmount or erase the disk:

1) Once booted from OS X Recovery, select Terminal from the Utilities pull down menu. (Or if you are booting to your own bootable drive with a full system, open Disk Utility from /Applications/Utilities).

At the unix prompt enter:

diskutil list

Press RETURN. From the listing, look in the Identifier column for your disk identifier. It will look like ‘diskx’ where ‘x’ is an integer starting at 0. You should also see the name of the disk such as ‘Macintosh HD’. In my example below, the disk name is ‘Server’. Note down the disk identifier. For a single drive system this will probably be ‘disk0′ :

diskutil list

2) Now enter the following where ‘x’ is your disk identifier:

sudo diskutil unmountDisk /dev/diskx

3) Press RETURN. Enter your admin password if prompted. This should unmount all volumes of the physical drive:

unmount all volumes of the physical drive

4) Attempt again to perform whichever task caused your ‘Couldn’t Unmount Disk’ error. (For example to Erase/Partition the disk).

Still unable to work on the disk? Still getting those pesky disk errors?

Bit more drastic, but you can attempt to force a volume or the entire physical disk to unmount:

FOR A VOLUME:

1) Using the Terminal application again, booting from OS X Recovery or an external bootable drive,
Enter the following where ‘x’ is your disk identifier and ‘y’ is your volume identifier, (remember to use the ‘diskutil list’ command if you need to find out your disk and volume identifiers):

sudo diskutil unmount force /dev/diskxsy

2) Press RETURN. Enter your admin password if prompted. This should force unmount the volume:

force unmount the volume

3) Attempt again to perform whichever task caused your ‘Couldn’t Unmount Disk’ error. (For example to Erase/Partition the disk).

FOR AN ENTIRE PHYSICAL DISK:

1) Using the Terminal application again, booting from OS X Recovery or an external bootable drive.

Enter the following where ‘x’ is your disk identifier. (Remember to use the ‘diskutil list’ command if you need to find out your disk identifiers):

sudo diskutil unmount force /dev/diskx

2) Press RETURN. Enter your admin password if prompted. This should force unmount the entire physical disk and all its related volumes:

orce unmount the entire physical disk and all its related volumes

3) Attempt again to perform whichever task caused your ‘Couldn’t Unmount Disk’ error. (For example to Erase/Partition the disk).

OK, we’ve tried to be nice, but is the disk STILL not letting you work with it?

Be sure you backup your files to an external drive or second internal drive, the following procedure will remove everything from the hard drive!

We are now going to force erase the physical disk, creating a single Mac OS Extended (Journaled) volume. This should then allow you to partition and work with the physical disk again.

1) Using the Terminal application again, booting from OS X Recovery or an external bootable drive.
Enter the following where ‘MacintoshHD’ is the name of the newly created Mac formatted partition, and where ‘x’ is your disk identifier, (remember to use the ‘diskutil list’ command if you need to find out your disk identifiers):

sudo diskutil eraseDisk JHFS+ MacintoshHD diskx

2) Press RETURN. Enter your admin password if prompted. This should force erase the entire physical disk and all its related volumes, then create a single Mac OS Extended (Journaled) volume:

create a single Mac OS Extended (Journaled) volume

3) Hopefully you can now perform your desired erase, partition, installation or deployment on this drive.

NOTE: Use of the ‘sudo’ command may not be necessary for some of these actions, however, as long as you know the administrator account’s password, starting any unix command with ‘sudo’ will force the command to be run as the unix root user, so you shouldn’t have any permission issues executing the command.

To learn more about the Mac OS file system: Take Mac Support for PC and Support Essentials

 

Disclaimer:

While the author has taken care to provide our readers with accurate information, please use your discretion before acting upon information based on the blog post. Amsys will not compensate you in any way whatsoever if you ever happen to suffer a loss/inconvenience/damage because of/while making use of information in this blog.

This feature has been tested using OS X v10.9.2 which was the latest Mac OS release at the time of writing.

iOS 7 – Email encryption issue.

This is just a quick heads up. It’s just come to light that  since at least 7.04, iOS  no longer encrypts email attachments on the local file system as it should do.

By default all apps should have any data they save encrypted as an additional layer of security. But it seems this is currently not happening with the Mail App.

Andreas Kurtz is credited with finding this issue. He has a write up here.

What does this mean? Well to get to the attachments someone malicious would need physical access to your iOS device, jail break it and then put the device into DFU mode. Until Apple fixes this, it’s probably best to take extra care with your devices.

European Apple training summer camp 2014

We are pleased to announce that we will be holding our annual European Apple Training Summer Camp this June in sunny Portugal. There are 3 training tracks available, and all travel, meals, accommodation, airport transfers and training/exams are included in the price!

Not only does the event provide excellent value and offer huge savings on standard training rates, but it also gives you the opportunity to meet with other specialists and share experience while gaining certified status.

This year’s summer camp has been scheduled for 18th – 26th June. If you are interested, please book ASAP, as places are limited!

This year’s training track

ACTC/Server Admin Bootcamp.

- Support and Server Essentials bootcamp (5 days training with exams)
- Advanced OS X Server
- Advanced Active Directory / Open Directory Integration

What’s included:

The summer camp costs just £2,695 and includes, flights (to and from the UK), transfer to and from the hotel & airport (in Portugal), accommodation, all meals, all training materials and exam fees (for ACTC). Click here to book now.

An introduction to AutoPKG

Hi all, this month I’ve decided to go over one of the tools I’ve mentioned in my previous blog; AutoPKG.

AutoPKG revision

I’m going to cheat and use my blurb from the last blog:

“AutoPKG is a relative new kid on the block in the Mac Admin world. Co-developed by Tim Sutton and Greg Neagle (two of the heavy-weights in Mac Admin’ing) it’s a great tool that, with the usage of recipes, can automatically download the latest version of software, perform some basic to intermediate repackaging, and automatically add the results into Munki Repo/s.

As it’s command-line based, it can be scripted and scheduled, allow certain mundane packaging tasks to be fully automated. Additionally, tools have been provided to allow other user to contribute to the recipes, increasing the number of software that can be dealt with in this way.”

The tool itself is very simple to install and use and if you are responsible for managing a Mac environment, I can’t recommend it enough!

Recipes and Processors

AutoPKG relies on two items to operate; recipes and processors.

Processors are small but highly specialised modules created to run a specific task. For example, AutoPKG includes a ‘URLDownloader’ processor that will take an input of a URL and download what it finds.

The idea behind this is that to download, tweak and package a piece of software, a few inputs are fed into a series of processors that will pass files and further inputs to each other to result in the final product.

Recipes are XML formatted files that detail the inputs for the item and which processors to use and pass the information between.

The result of this methodology is to make the solution highly modular to make fixes and upgrades easier to implement.

For further information, check out the wiki (under the Processors and Recipes headings).

Installation

The best guide to the installation of AutoPKG can be found on their wiki. Rather than repeat that pretty great step-by-step guide, I’ll just point out a few gotchas and good-to-know areas.

Xcode Tools

One of the requirements for the AutoPKG is the Git command line tool that is used to pull down recipes. If you’re running Mavericks, the simplest way to check if you have this installed (and to download it otherwise) is to launch terminal, enter ‘git’ and press return.

If you already have the tools installed, you’ll see a help page for git:

xcode tools autopkg

Otherwise, you’ll see the following output, with a Software update popup:

software update autopkg

 git command

Follow the onscreen instructions to install the Xcode tools. Once complete, recheck and you should get the Git help output.

Preferences for AutoPKG

The AutoPKG wiki also details a lot of preferences you can use with AutoPKG. These all go into the “com.github.autopkg” preference domain.

Here are some options that I have used:

  • “CACHE_DIR” – This is a string value to denote where to store the finished output files. The default is “~/Library/AutoPkg/Cache”.
  • “MUNKI_REPO” – This is also a string value, to denote where your Munki Repo is. If set, and if a “.munki” recipe is run, then AutoPKG will automatically add the item into Munki as part of the ‘run’. The default is blank and an example would be “/Volumes/DataHD/munki_repo”.

Usage

Right, so you have a little understanding of the overall installation and setup and you have configured your AutoPKG as per the wiki page.

Now let’s take a brief look at the usage of AutoPKG.

Run Recipes

The first thing you’ll need to do is to find out what recipes you have locally on your Mac. Fire up Terminal and enter “autopkg list-recipes” and press ‘return’. This should give you a list of the recipes available on your Mac:

autopkg list recipes

If you don’t get any results, it’s probably that you missed the ‘repo-add’ step on the wiki. Give that a go first.

Now you have your list all you need to do is enter the following into Terminal:

"autopkg run –v [recipe name]"

For example:

autopkgrun –v [recipe name]

This will run through the recipe and display the output of each processor. Once complete, you will be given a summary and a file path for the final product:

auto pkg recipes

Final pkg file will be located at “/Users/sadmin/Library/AutoPkg/Cache/com.github.autopkg.pkg.VLC/”

Multiple Recipes in One Run

In addition to the above, you can run multiple recipes in one AutoPKG ‘run’ using:

"autopkg run –v [recipe 1 name] [recipe 2 name] [recipe 3 name]"


For example:

multiple autopkg recipes

Again, at the end you’ll see a summary of the output and details on where the files are located:

autopkg output

Summary

Well, I hope the small taster of AutoPKG encourages you to at least give it a go. Once you’re confident you can try some of the more advanced features such as:

  • Automation   -    Automate AutoPKG runs using scripts and launch Daemons to automatically keep certain applications up to date.
  • More Recipe Repos   -    Google around and find other Repos to use to increase your recipe list.
  • Create Overrides for Recipes  -  Create override files to override some of the defaults in recipes.
  • Create your own Recipes  -   The ultimate goal, write your own!

I do hope this will help some of you out there and feel free to leave any comments or details of your experiences in the comments below.

Apple opens OS X betas to non-developers

So with WWDC fast approaching Apple have just released a change in their policy regarding betas.

In the past you had to be a signed up developer to access pre-release copies of OS X.

This has now changed. Apple have just announced that non developers can access beta releases of OS X via its new Beta Seed Program.

It’s free to sign up but you do have to agree to a confidentiality agreement.

This is a great way of accessing pre-release copies of OS X for your internal testing.

Enjoy…..

The UK’s first Mac walk-in Service Desk at a University!

Back in January of this year, Plymouth University opened “The CORE”. The CORE is the first Mac walk-in Service Desk at a University in the UK.

The service, which is staffed by Amsys Apple Certified Technicians, provides staff and students with a walk-in Mac support service, similar to that of the “Genius Bar” at the Apple Store.

This service, which is more than just a support desk, provides members of the university with “a visible presence of IT that allows the business and students to gain the benefits of Plymouth University’s highly skilled staff without the usual pain of process and call logging that normally applies.”

Last month, one of the lecturers was trying to use a new high-res scanner that hadn’t been set up to work with their Macs, so he walked over to The CORE to see if his problem could be resolved. Lecturer, Mike, explains:

“Previously I would have had to send software requests and complete spreadsheets that could take days but today I walked over to ‘The CORE’ next to the illustration studio and was able to get the correct driver installed in less than two minutes by a member of the Amsys team. This made my job so much easier and was a huge improvement over the previous Mac support system we had to endure.”

thecore-plymouth

Other situations where The Core has been on hand to help include:

Helping a student who had accidentally deleted their system files, and needed help and assistance on recovering them from Time Machine.

Another student had issues with Word crashing whilst in the middle of a dissertation (due in the next day!). It turns out that he had no free space on his Mac. Our team were able to resolve the issue, and then advise the student on how to clear some space and to remember to keep saving regularly, plus backups!

“The CORE is a great opportunity to change the method of I.T service delivery so that it is right where the users need it. We’re delighted to be in the flagship Roland Levinsky building and to provide this very user centric support service for the university.”

David Acland, Technical Director Amsys

Click here to read the complete case study.

An Introduction to iBeacons Seminar

ibeacons-retailers
Last summer, iBeacons was quietly released along with iOS 7 with little fanfare, however, over the last few months this technology has started to gain traction within the technology market and has already been adopted by a number of high profile organisations. Indeed, back in November we started work with iBeacon transmitter manufacturer, Estimote on our own deployment projects.

We are really excited about this technology, as there are endless possibilities where iBeacons can be used throughout a number of different industry sectors. However, as the Guardian quite rightly pointed out last week “Getting it right means more than just deploying a few beacons” and we believe that this is incredibly important if you are going to implement an effective iBeacons strategy.

Which is why we are running an “Introduction to iBeacons” seminar for businesses that want to find out what iBeacons are, how they work and how they can be deployed to transform the way they currently interact with their customers.

There are a number of organisations who have already started testing and implementing iBeacons, these include:

Tescos is currently testing iBeacons to create a tailored shopping experience, depending on which store the customer is visiting.

American Eagle has deployed iBeacons across 100 of their stores in the USA, to notify customers of deals and product suggestions whilst they are shopping.

The Groninger Museum in the Netherlands now uses iBeacons to provide interactive content to their visitors about the particular piece they are viewing.

Major League Baseball have installed iBeacons around the US to provide their spectators with point-of-interest mapping and other relevant contextual information.

Our next event is on the 6th of May in London, where we will be discussing the following topics:

  • An overview of Bluetooth LE.
  • An overview of the iBeacon Framework in iOS 7.
  • An overview of iBeacon transmitters.
  • The infrastructure required.
  • An overview of implementing iBeacons in your app and organisation.
  • Some example deployment scenarios.

Date: 6th May, 10am – 12pm
Where: Soho, London

If you are interested in learning more about iBeacons and how you can use them in your organisation, then attend our seminar in May! To register please fill in the form below:

Heartbleed: What it means for you and how to protect your business

The Heartbleed bug is hitting the headlines, and many people are talking about a huge compromise in IT. Here’s some succinct information for you to keep up to date.

What is it?

The Heartbleed bug is a vulnerability using OpenSSL, which is type of common cryptographic protocols to protect data: SSL and TLS. These are used to encrypt data to protect your credentials, mostly username and passwords as well as content.

This cryptology is in embedded for servers and services around the world, meaning mail, websites and services from servers are affected if they utilise this type of cryptology to protect data. It is an isolated version dated from 2011, so it exists in and around previous and current technology.

Vulnerable servers can have their encoded data hijacked and abused. One master password can mean unlocking all of your customers  data to would be attackers.

The specific versions of OpenSSL 1.0.1 through 1.0.1f (inclusive) are vulnerable.

What that means for Mac Users:

Mac Servers
OS X has used version 0.9.8y historically and so does not suffer from this vulnerability. The only way it can be affected is if someone had compiled and installed an older version.

Kerio Connect
Kerio has released a patch for the vulnerability. Our support team rolled out the patch to our support clients as soon as  it became available.

How can I protect myself?

The usual procedures apply. Do not use the same password across all accounts. Change your passwords regularly. Watch your browsing habits. If you own a website, check with your hosting company that they are addressing the problem, as many web servers are running the operating systems that OpenSSL is bundled with.

Here is a tool to check if a website could be vulnerable.

filippo.io/Heartbleed/

More detailed information can be found here:

http://heartbleed.com/

How to quickly access and search unix command man pages

Here’s something I stumbled across recently. I have no idea how long this feature has existed for, but I am really pleased I found it! Apologies to those that already know this, but despite using the Terminal on a Mac for years, I never knew about this!

If you double-click on a unix command in the Terminal to highlight the command, you can then control/right-click and select “Open man Page”:

open man page

This will then load up a new window with the man page of the highlighted command so that you can see what the command’s synopsis, description and options are without having to cancel or clear the command you have started to enter:

defaults write terminal

Whilst a command is highlighted, you can also control/right-click and select “Search man Page Index” :

search man page index

For those of you familiar with using ‘apropos’, this option will load up a new window with all command line references to the highlighted word:

apropos default

This feature may be something you are already aware of and, therefore, my question is why has no-one told me before! :)

I decided to blog this to share the word to those, like me, that have not stumbled across this and I hope like me they will find this useful!

One other useful feature which I think may have been added in Mavericks, is that you can option/alt-click anywhere in the middle of a unix command to move the cursor directly to the exact point you clicked. Nice!

Disclaimer:

While the author has taken care to provide our readers with accurate information, please use your discretion before acting upon information based on the blog post. Amsys will not compensate you in any way whatsoever if you ever happen to suffer a loss/inconvenience/damage because of/while making use of information in this blog.

This feature has been tested using OS X v10.9.2 which was the latest Mac OS release at the time of writing.

Rebuild the Spotlight Index on the fly

If you’re having issues finding files on your Mac, then you can easily rebuild the Spotlight index for your Mac by typing the following command into the Terminal:

sudo mdutil -E

After you do that, you will notice, after a few minutes, that when  you click the Spotlight button in the menu bar, Spotlight will show that it is currently indexing your system.

rebuild index

By using the above command, this will index all drives, or you can specify a drive to be indexed by adding the drive name.

sudo mdutil -E /Volumes/DriveName

Disclaimer:
While the author has taken care to provide our readers with accurate information, please use your discretion before acting upon information based on the blog post. Amsys will not compensate you in any way whatsoever if you ever happen to suffer a loss/inconvenience/damage because of/while making use of information in this blog.

How to hide and disable icons on your desktop

Over the last few weeks, I have been preparing to do a WebEx‎ presentation whereby I will need to share my desktop. However, it’s in a bit of a mess!

So, I had two options, either I clean up or try to hide it! The clean up option meant that I would have to put everything back following the presentation, so option two it was!

There are two ways in which you can do this, depending on how often you are going to or need to use it. One way is to run a couple of commands in terminal or create a script that you can just launch as and when you need it. Today, we are going to use the script files, but you can easily use each command separately.

The Hide Command:
We will need to create a new file, to do so we are going to use nano:

nano DesktopHide.command

For the script we are going to use:

#!/bin/sh
 
defaults write com.apple.finder CreateDesktop -bool false && killall Finder && killall Terminal

The Reversal Command:

We need to create a new file and to do so we are going to use nano:

nano DesktopReveal.command

For the script we are going to use:

#!/bin/sh
 
defaults write com.apple.finder CreateDesktop -bool true && killall Finder && killall Terminal

Disclaimer:

While the author has taken care to provide our readers with accurate information, please use your discretion before acting upon information based on the blog post. Amsys will not compensate you in any way whatsoever if you ever happen to suffer a loss/inconvenience/damage because of/while making use of information in this blog.

A new Apple Certified Master Trainer joins the Amsys team!

Back in April last year, Apple announced their new certification for Apple Certified trainers called the “Apple Certified Master Trainer”. This certification recognises Apple Certified trainers “who build their skills and knowledge around Apple technologies” and “stand out as experts.” Now we can proudly say that we have a full house at Amsys Training as Daryl McCartney received his Apple Master Certification last week!

apple master trainer logo

So, who are our Apple Certified Master trainers now?

Daryl McCartney, teaches our Support and Server Essentials, Mac Integration Basics and our ACMT courses

Richard Mallion, is our IT Director with extensive experience within both windows and mac platforms, programming, cross platform integration, app development and he also created our popular OS X revision app, Revise IT and iOS deployment troubleshooting app, Services Test.

Russell trains ACMT, ACSP, ACTC, ACA as well as, Mac Support for PC, Advanced Deployment and Keynote and iBooks.

Hugo teaches our advanced OS X courses such as, Advanced Deployment and OS X security, as well as our iOS Security and Deployment course.

Pete trains, ACA, ACSP, ACTC, Advanced Deployment, Advanced Directory Services, Advanced OS X security and our iOS Deployment & Security courses.

apple master traininers 2014

“We’re delighted that Daryl has achieved this status, as now all of our trainers have been awarded the Apple Master Trainer Certification, which reflects our determination to set the standard for the industry.”
Alex Hawes, Managing Director

Thank you to everyone who attended the Manchester open day

apple training centre manchester

Last week we hosted an open day with our sister company Soho Editors at our new training centre at The Sharp Project.

The day kicked off with a networking breakfast, followed by a packed 2hr seminar or iOS App Development and an hour on Final Cut Pro X by Soho Editors, which was so popular we had to hold two sessions!

After lunch, delegates spent the afternoon attending a choice of 4 different seminars on Advanced OS X Server, iOS Security and Deployment, DaVinci Resolve, and Creative Cloud or networking and enjoying the selection of complementary wines and beers!

Throughout the day we were delighted to meet so many new faces as well as our regular delegates, with whom we have had long standing relationship with. It was great to finally get to talk with everyone outside of a typical training day!

We also held a “Sharp Shooter Challenge” on the table tennis, football and pool table with a top prize of an iPod Nano. The winners were:

  • Pool – David Urquhart
  • Football – Rob Magowan
  • Table Tennis – Daniel Jones

Thanks to everyone who attended and helped make the day an enjoyable and successful event, please check out some of the photos below, and stay tuned for further announcements and events!

 

ios app development seminar

Full house for the iOS App Development Seminar.

lunch

Plenty of networking during lunch.

panoramic

Amsys and Soho Editors’ seminars in full swing!

md-table-tennis

Our MDs’ have a friendly table tennis game.

Introducing iOS Server

OS X Server has always run on Mac hardware. However, with the advent of cheaper, mobile and energy efficient iOS devices such as iPads, the Amsys team have always thought it would be fantastic if you could utilise these devices to run the server product, as well.

Just think how wonderful it would be to have a rack of iPads hosting your file sharing services or web services!

So for the last few years our team of developers have been busy working away and today we can finally, proudly announce the ‘iOS Server’.

iOS Server is a native app that offers all the features of Apple’s OS X Server product for the iPad. Instead of being tied to Macintosh Hardware you can deploy iPads for your back-end infrastructure.

You gain many benefits by using iPad:

  • iPads are mobile. So instead of having a dedicated server room, you can deploy the iPads around your office. You could even take your server home with you in the evening.
  • They are much more energy efficient, plus with a built in battery, if you have a power failure; they still continue to run.
  • They have a smaller footprint so you can stack them far more easily than say the new Mac Pro.
  • No keyboard or mouse is required.

Server App

We took a long time to create a Server App for iOS that looked and behaved like Apple’s OS X version. So if you are already running or administrating OS X Server, you will feel right at home with iOS Server.

As we already mentioned, we have recreated nearly all the services that OS X Server offers, but here are some of the highlights.

File Sharing

ios-fs

As you can see from the screenshot, we have implemented a fully working FileSharing service supporting AFP and SMB network protocols. You can make use of the internal storage of the iPad and reshare files to your network.

To overcome the limited storage of the iPad, we have implemented a mechanism that allows you to reshare files from your favourite cloud service such as Dropbox or Box. For redundancy, you can even cluster a set of iPads to create more bandwidth and more reliability in the event of a failure.

Managed Users

ios-mdm

iOS Server has full support for managing all your users and groups. These can either be local users to that specific iPad, we offer full support for Open Directory Accounts or you can connect iOS Server to your company directory server, such as Active Directory.

With a fully functioning MDM service, you can manage your OS X and iOS devices/users in the same way that you have been able to with OS X Server.

Caching Service

ios-caching

iOS Server can act as a Caching for all your OS X, iOS and App updates. For example, the File Sharing service, you can utilise the local storage of the iPad to cache these updates or you can tap into your favourite cloud service.

Other Services

ios-othersevices
As you can see we offer the full comprehensive services that you would expect. Ranging from Mail and Calendar services to backup services.

Availability and Requirements

iOS Server requires an iPad with retina screen running iOS 7+. Minimum suggested storage is 32GB. iOS Server will be available from the App Store starting today priced at £0.69

Personal Note: After the disastrous Spaghetti harvest of 2013 , I’m off to open my first jam mine in deepest, darkest Cornwall.

What’s in my Mac admin tool kit

Hey all, this month I’ve decided to share some of the tools and resources I use to carry out my day-to-day job. The common questions I get when I visit clients are:

  • What tools would you recommend for packaging?
  • What tools for scripting?
  • How do you learn the best was to package software ‘X’?

It’s this information that I’d like to share with you today.

Packaging

So number one on my list, is the tools I use for packaging / repackaging applications. First a word of advice, typically, it is better to take a developer provided .pkg or .mpkg install, and use this combined with secondary and so on installs to customise the install to your requirements, than it is to repackage the software for the sake of it.

Developers spend a lot of time (at least I like to think so) carefully crafting Installers with logic and scripts, that simply by repackaging these, you could break and cause more work for yourself.

Now for the juicy stuff, I tend to use the following six utilities when packaging applications and installers:

  • Iceberg
  • Packages
  • Composer (JAMF)
  • AutoPKG
  • AutoDMG
  • Munki (yes Munki!)

Iceberg

Iceberg is a GUI Apple package-making tool developed by WhiteBox and is available for free to download. At its heart, it’s a very basic packaging environment, and I typically used this to create payload-free installer packages to run scripts, or to create deployable installers for drag and drop software such as Firefox.

I say ‘used to’ as this hasn’t been updated since 2011 and, although it works fine, it has been replaced by Packages. Iceberg can only create non-flat packages, which can be a disadvantage or an advantage depending on your situation.

Packages

Packages is another GUI Apple package making tool, again developed by WhiteBox, again free to download and use. The interface is slightly more updated than Iceberg’s and has been simplified to a certain extent. Packages also provides a command line tool to assist with the building and automation of package building tasks.

In contrast to Iceberg, Packages can only create flat-packages, which can be both advantageous or disadvantageous depending on your specific requirement.

Composer

Composer (part of the JAMF Casper suite but also available separately) is a full snapshot-based packaging tool. I have to confess to not trying other options out there, purely because JAMF’s offering fulfills my requirements well enough.

As well as its snapshot method, it also has a number of recipes to grab from preinstalled software any required files to package that software that you already have installed.

Although not free, it retails at only around US$80 for education and US$100 for others, per license.

AutoPKG

AutoPKG is a relatively new kid on the block in the Mac Admin world. Co-developed by Tim Sutton and Greg Neagle (two of the heavy-weights in Mac Admin’ing) it’s a great tool that, with the usage of recipes, can automatically download the latest version of software, perform some basic to intermediate repackaging, and automatically add the results into Munki Repo/s.

As it’s command-line based, it can be scripted and scheduled, allow certain mundane packaging tasks to be fully automated. Additionally, tools have been provided to allow other users to contribute to the recipes, increasing the number of software that can be dealt with in this way.

Available for free here with an active Google Group and a detailed Wiki I cannot recommend this enough. I’ll be looking to write a blog on this soon, but it really is simple to use and configure.

Another thing worth mentioning for the Casper users is a great project that has been released (as testing!) over at www.318.com called ‘JSSImporter for AutoPKG’.

AutoDMG

Another recent (-ish) utility, developed as a successor to InstaDMG, AutoDMG carries out a similar task by allowing the Mac Admin to create an unbooted Mac OS X disk image, ready to be deployed without any of the Hardware specific items (such as ByHost files and UUIDs) getting in the way.

Available for free here, it’s much like InstaDMG, it also allows you to add Apple Software updates automatically as well as any custom installers you wish, all presented in a nice GUI. As of the latest version, it also includes command line tools, allowing you to automate and schedule re-creations of updated ‘masters’ as often as required.

Munki

Now for the curve ball, using the command line ‘munkiimport’ you can actually import the DMG drag and drop installers (e.g. Firefox) and just plan .app bundles (as obtained from the Mac App Store) directly into your Munki repos. Munki will know exactly what to do to use these items and install them correctly! See my Munki whitepaper a guide on Munki usage.

Scripting

For my scripting needs, there are only three main applications I use, although I’m leaning towards a fourth. These are:

  • Fraise
  • Xcode
  • TextEdit
  • TextWrangler

Fraise

One of my favourite little free apps is Fraise. Although no longer in development (for a long while!) It is still free, fast and easy to use. The only real issue is that due to the age, it can occasionally crash but not too often! Available for download here.

Xcode

Yes, I have used Xcode in a pinch (normally by accident) for my bash scripting. Although the scripting interface is pretty cool, with colour coding, suggestions and line numbers, I find the application is too slow in use and launching to be of much help….and it’s huge!

Available free from the Mac App Store.

TextEdit

Always a last resort (well, before MS Word anyway) is Apple’s TextEdit. You need to configure a number of options before use (such as Plain text, disable smart copy & paste and smart quotes) otherwise it runs the likelihood of breaking your scripts as you use it!

Free with every Mac OS X copy!

TextWrangler

Another free scripting program, personally I find it to be a little slower than Fraise (hence why I haven’t fully embraced it) but it has no real faults and is actively developed! I’ll likely switch over in the near future just for the on-going development aspect.

Available free here (or via a AutoPKG recipe!).

Deployment Tools

This section lists the four main tools I use for deployment. The choices of tools used (or provided) will depend on lots of factors such as function, cost, ease of use, customer knowledge and available customer time. These are:

  • JAMF’s Casper Suite
  • Munki
  • DeployStudio
  • Apple Remote Desktop (ARD)

Casper Suite

Top of the range (certainly in cost and features) JAMF’s Casper suite is intended as a one stop shop for Mac OS X and iOS deployment, imaging, management and asset tracking. The best comparison I can make is it’s a Mac version of Microsoft’s SCCM solution.

OK it’s not 100% perfect and has its quirks but then what doesn’t? For one thing, their user forums are a treasure trove of helpful information and Mac Admins, eager to share the knowledge they’ve gained.

As far from free as possible but you do get a lot of ‘bang for your buck’. Check out JAMF’s website for more information and for prices etc.

Munki

Munki is the brainchild of a certain Greg Neale and provides a great tool to manage the software installations and maintenance on your Mac fleet. Requiring simply a web server and some client tools, it can be hosted on almost any Server system (and some non-server such as NAS boxes) allowing it to be scalable to any size.

To top it off, it’s free! The main downside of Munki is it’s all command line, and this can be very intimidating to a newcomer and can make complex solutions difficult to visualise and understand. However, I do know some Mac Admins who’d consider this a pro to Munki!

Other Mac developers have come to the rescue such as Hannes Juutilainen and his Munki Admin GUI tool to lower this perceived learning curve….and I can’t forget my own efforts!

DeployStudio

DeployStudio is another (!) free tool leveraging Apple’s Netboot system to provide a simple method to deploy Mac master images and settings across the network (think Windows PXE boot style). Simple and easy to use, with plenty of little tricks to find and utilise it’d make a great addition to any deployment workflow (JAMF take note!).

Freely available here.

Apple Remote Desktop (ARD)

Bottom of the pile due to the basic nature of the tool, ARD has, however, saved my bacon more times then I can count! Once you have added all of the Macs in your estate, you can simply and on-demand push out installations and scripts as needed.

The main downside is that this system pushes out the items, rather than getting the clients to pull them. This can result in some Macs just never getting that install or script to run.

Available from the Mac App Store for GB£54.99.

Hardware Information

These tools are great for finding out the warranty status of that Mac, or how much extra RAM will it take, something’s that can be difficult to remember when all you have is a Serial Number.

Global Service Exchange (GSX)

Only available to Apple Authorised Service Providers (AASPs), I will only touch briefly on this, but it’s a one-stop shop for when all you have is a serial number, and you need to know warranty status, model designation, take apart manuals etc.

Apple Service Page

This website can give you almost the same information as GSX but is open and free to all.

MacTracker

A great little tool from Ian Page is available from his website, the Mac App Store and the iOS stores, all for free. It shows you all the possible information for each model of Mac that ever existed! Great to find out how much RAM you can cram into your ageing MacBook Pro.

General Resources

And now we reach our final section, this list details the places I frequent to try and stay on top of new Mac issues and techniques, as well as for reference material when I need assistance.

DeployStudio Forums
Although primarily focused on DS, these forums can be a great place to find out about issues as they arise.

JAMF Nation
Again, primarily focussed on Casper products, these forums are great to find out about new issues, new ideas and best ways to package certain products.

Munki Google Group
Again, focused on Munki specifically, is another place where some great Mac Admins are communicating and can be an ideal place to pick up that little bit extra knowledge!

Mac Enterprise Mailing List
Unlike the others, this mailing list is focused purely on Mac’s in the enterprise (and education) and can prove an invaluable resource at times.

Miscellaneous Blogs

Just a quick list of the blogs I check often.

Mike Kaply
Mike created and maintains the excellent CCK2 for customising and locking down Firefox installations.

The Mac Admin
Miles is an excellent JAMF trainer and regularly posts details and ‘script-bits’ that are helpful and valuable.

nbalonso
An Ex-Apple employee who is generous with his knowledge of all things Mac and UNIX.

derflounder
Rich is another well-known and respected Mac Admin, here you can read his words of wisdom.

krypted
Author of the Apple Certification books since….well for years!.

hints.macworld
A good site for the more user-focused tips and tricks.

afp548
The classic Mac Admin blog, always worth checking out.

Summary

And there you go. I hope that this insight into the places I regularly visit will you learn and improve your knowledge of Mac Administration, or at least gives you some ideas! I want to also hear from you. Do you have any favourite tools / website you utilise? Let me know in the comments below!

Pearson Vue exam tip

I have been running our ACMT Fast Track course this week, which consists of two exams (1x hardware & 1x software).  For years, we have always recommended that while answering questions if you do not know which is correct, try to discount answers that you know are  incorrect as this will sometimes narrow down to two or possibly even just one remaining answer.

While taking the software exam today, one of my delegates noted that if you right click on an answer, it will put a line through it to visually help you determine which of the remaining answers is correct.

pearson vue exam tim

This is especially useful for those questions that have 5 or more answers, as it will help make it a lot easier for you to remember which ones you have already discounted.

Using arrays in bash

Working with one of our enterprise clients recently I needed to use an array in a bash script.

This was because we wanted to read a load of separate values from AD and then perform a different task on the results.  I had some memories using arrays with Objective-C but it took a bit of working out so I thought I’d share what I found.

The Requirement

We were working on a script to mount network drives based on AD group membership.  The only oddity was the  shared drive URLs were being stored in the description fields of the AD group records.  We needed to check the groups the user was a member of and mount each of the respective drives.  This particular client had in excess of 4000 group records so hard coding values definitely wasn’t an option!

Bash Array Basics

It’s probably a good idea at this point to run through a few basics with arrays in bash.  This isn’t a definitive guide but covers the core elements we used in our script.

Arrays are quite similar to standard unix variables, the key difference is the use of brackets:

 myArray=(value)

This would of course only store one value in the array so not much more use than a variable.

The power is when you want to store multiple values:

myArray=(value1 value2 value3)

As you can see you add multiple values by using a space as the separator.  If you want white space in an array entry enclose it in quotes (‘value 1’ ‘value 2’).

If you wanted to add more values later you can use the + sign:

myArray+=(‘value4’)
myArray+=(‘value5’)

To read the values back you can use either an @ symbol:

echo ${myArray[@]}

Or use a number to read back a specific entry:

echo ${myArray[1]}

(It is worth noting at this point that arrays start at 0 so the first entry isn’t 1, its 0)

The Solution

We started off reading the memberOf attribute in AD and used sed & cut to get the group name.
The resulting values were put into an array called “adGroups”.

adGroups=($(dscl /Active\ Directory/AD-DOMAIN/All\ Domains -read /Users/$USER memberOf | cut -d, -f1 | sed 's|CN=||g'))

Once we had these values we used a for loop to cycle through the array, reading the description fields of each of the groups and mount the resulting URLs.

 for group in "${adGroups[@]}”     # This line starts the loop, reading the array values and setting the result as a variable called “group"
    do
     groupMount=$(dscl /Active\ Directory/AD-DOMAIN/All\ Domains -read /Groups/$group Comment | sed 's|Comment: ||g' | sed 's:\\:/:g' | sed 's/ \/\///g' | tr -d '\n' | sed 's/ /%20/g’)
                    # The above line creates a new variable that reads the Comment attribute of the AD group, 
                    # the uses sed (a lot) to strip out unwanted text and convert backslashes into forward slashes
     mkdir /Volumes/$group
                    # The above line creates the mount point for the network drive
     mount -t smbfs //$@$groupMount /Volumes/$group
                    # The above line performs the actual drive mount (using Kerberos)
done

This script is a bit cut down, leaving out logging and error checking but demonstrates the use of the array in this case.

If you would like more information about Bash Scripting, download our free whitepaper.

iBeacon – Updated

Once of the most exciting features announced alongside iOS 7, and the one that has received very little publicly is iBeacon.

So what is iBeacon?

iBeacon is a new service that is part of iOS 7′s core location services. This service allows any iOS device that supports Bluetooth 4.0 to find and locate other Bluetooth Low Energy devices. By using iBeacon, a device can start transmitting its location, other iBeacon devices can locate them without using GPS or Wi-Fi location services. The range varies but can be up to 100 feet depending on the device. So once your phone is within range, it will detect the iBeacon.

A number of vendors are producing dedicated iBeacon transmitters. Here at Amsys we have been busy working with a number of  companies including  Estimote and Gimbal who produce a range of small transmitters.

estimote

 

These are very small devices. They are powered by a battery which gives the device enough power for 2 years. Once enabled, they start broadcasting a unique ID.

So the idea is, you can place one or more these devices at a location. For instance, a shop may place many of these devices around its store.  A museum may place them around specific exhibits.

The iOS device can then locate these devices. If multiple devices are detected, it can  work out which one is closer. It can even work out if you are getting nearer or further away from them.

So why get excited?

The power of these devices become apparent when you build the functionality into an app.

There are hundreds of examples but here are just a few.

  1.  A Retailer. By placing them around a shop floor, that shop’s app can locate where the user is, for instance to see if they near a specific product. By knowing the users location the app for instance could display specific information on that product they are viewing or maybe offer a discount voucher for it. Paypal are introducing a contactless payment system by using iBeacon. Even Apple are about to roll them out through their stores.
  2. A Gallery.  A gallery could use them easily to locate which painting a user is looking at, the gallery’s app would then show information on that painting.
  3. Exhibition Centre: By placing them next to exhibitor stands you could use them to not only navigate around the exhibition but also have relevant information as you pass specific stands/exhibitors.

As you can see,  there are endless possibilities. Basically, you can make better use of location based information and have a much better interactive experience with your customers/users.

A real life example is New York Mets baseball team. They recently did a test deployment. For instance, fans who purchased their tickets through the official app had a barcode of their ticket automatically displayed on their phone as they approach the entrance for the stadium. Once inside, the app guided them to their seat using their location. When they visited a merchandise stand they where offered some rewards points.

By using this new location service, you can make your apps much more personal and context aware.

At Amsys, we are currently working with a number of clients who are introducing this technology. One client is using them to identify spare meeting rooms. Each room has an iBeacon. As you approach the room, the app tells you whether the room is free or not.

The other nice thing about iBeacon is that the app does not need to be running. Instead, as you approach an iBeacon, a notification can be sent to the phone’s lock screen.

If you can see a use for this technology or would like some further information feel free to contact us.

Update for iOS 7.1

Apple have recently released iOS 7.1, quite a big update for iOS 7. One of the new features is in relation to iBeacon. When iBeacon was introduced, one of the ways you could utilise this service was to push a notification to the user when they reached a certain proximity with a beacon.

The caveat was that the app either had to be the foreground app or was parked in the background. Now with iOS 7.1 the app doesn’t even need to be running in the background for you to receive the notifications. Much more useful!

5 days to go until our open day in Manchester

manchester-sharp-project

If you haven’t heard, we have moved our training centre in Manchester to The Sharp Project! To celebrate, we are hosting an extra special day of free seminars, networking and Q & A sessions with our Apple Certified team.

We will be closing registrations for the seminars tomorrow (Friday) so there’s still time to confirm your free ticket. On the other hand, if you fancy just stopping by for one of the Q&A or networking sessions, please let us know so that we can add you to our visitor list.

What’s on!

  • iOS App Development – 2 HR Seminar
  • Advanced OS X Server – 1 HR Seminar
  • iOS Security & Deployment - 2 HR Seminar
  • Final Cut Pro X: The Professionals Editor – 1 HR Seminar
  • DaVinci Resolve 10: Edit, Grade and Deliver – 1 HR Seminar
  • Creative Cloud: The product of an hour - 1 HR Seminar
  • Q & A Sessions – Available throughout the day
  • Networking breakfast, lunch & Mac Meetup Drinks

View the complete schedule and to register online here.

And finally, if you are driving to the event we will need to know your name and car registration number, please email training@amsys.co.uk.

How to fix your LogMeIn passwords not being saved

If, like us on Amsys Service Desk, you use LogMeIn in a professional capacity to remotely support a multitude of clients or internal staff, then you may have come across a problem whereby LogMeIn has stopped saving or storing passwords even though you have ticked the box “Save credentials”.

logme in password credentials

As LogMeIn is a web or cloud based application, it stores its password within the Adobe Flash Plugin Storage Settings. The default storage is set at 100KB, but this finite amount is limited if you store a number of passwords.

You can increase the limitation of Adobe Flash Website Storage to a specific or unlimited amount. To access this setting, simply open a web browser and navigate to the Macromedia website.

When the above address loads, simply click on the tab “Website Storage Settings” (see the image below), and select the websites that you would like to change. In this particular case, logmein.com and secure.logmein.com, and move the slider to the right to increase the storage for that specific website.

flash player help

From here on in, your Adobe Flash Player Website Storage will be set to your greater amount and will increase the number of passwords you can store.

Amsys’ Mavericks OS X 10.9 Advanced Deployment course arrives!

Hello Mac fans!

Continuing my series of blogs reporting back from what’s new in the training world of Amsys, last week I delivered our first Advanced Deployment 10.9 course at our South London Apple training centre.

os x deployment mavericks

For those of you not already familiar with our OS X Advanced Deployment course, this course is designed for OS X System Administrators who need to know how to streamline the process of installing and configuring a large number of computers running OS X.

This course was created by myself to fill the gap left by Apple’s decision to retire their ACSA Deployment certification, which ended with Mac OS X 10.6.

I designed this course to provide plenty of hands on labs and to cover a wide range of real-world scenarios faced by Mac techs when asked to deploy Macs in a business or education environment.

Day One

As with all our courses, the first day kicked off with an introduction to the course and facilities.

As this is an advanced course, students should already have a good understanding of OS X and OS X server or have attended the OS X Support Essentials v10.9 and OS X Server Essentials v10.9 courses.

Experience using the command-line interface with OS X is also very useful as we spend a good while in the command-line.

The first section of the course gets the students to look into Deployment Planning.

You can never stress enough how important planning is when rolling out a new deployment. So we spend some time discussing comprehensive planning of a new deployment of Macs, providing students with a better awareness of how to develop a stable deployment strategy.

Deploying Individual Items and Containers is up next, where we look into how to install individual files, folders, Apps or compressed items.

With Mavericks, Apple has made App deployment more flexible so, in this section we explain all the options available to you when you are installing Mac App Store apps on multiple machines. We also look at how to manage the ownership of the apps. There is also a good discussion about Apple IDs.

Students always find this section useful as they try to get to grips with how best to install, remove and manage apps on Mac devices.

We wrap up day one with Installation Packages. We look at how Apple’s installer technology works for software distribution, including how to create custom installation packages using GUI tools and the command line.

There is also a dedicated appendix covering two alternative installation solutions, the open-source project Munki and the commercial Casper Suite.

Day Two

Creating Entire System Images is a key area for Mac deployment and so day two is dedicated to creating and deploying system images.

Last week my students were keen to know how to create full system images for a complete deployment of OS X Mavericks. So, they were more than pleased to  learn how to completely customise system images with automated tasks such as user account creation, Directory service binding and MDM auto enrollment.

We finish day two with a look at how to Deploy System Images, the students are tasked with the job of setting up Apple’s NetInstall service and creating and managing NetBoot, NetRestore and NetInstall System Images.

By the end of the day, students will be able to create and mass deploy customised system images, making deployment much easier than manually configuring one machine at a time!

Day Three

The final day is designed to tackle the issues of all those settings and software that you can’t deploy within your system image, therefore, this day explains Post Imaging Deployment Considerations and System Maintenance.

There are various techniques available to apply post installation configuration, such as setting the Firmware password, modifying preferences and Post Imaging Serialization. MDM solutions such as Apple’s Profile Manager are an option, as is scripting post deployment settings.

In today’s mobile world, keeping all company devices up-to-date and secure can be a big task. Consequently, this stage in the course invites students to discuss their own company’s environment needs and learn how to manage, track and monitor company computers, tablets and smartphones and how Apple’s solution, as well as the leading third party solutions, can handle this.

As well as management and security, updating software can sometimes be a difficult task to maintain.

We take a look into the Apple Software Update Service and Caching Service, as well as third party software update solutions, to see how updating Macs can be managed and simplified.
Additionally, a range of features available through Apple Remote Desktop are discussed.

The final day is largely dedicated to Deploying Macs with DeployStudio. So we take a look at the DeployStudio deployment package for additional Deployment features which work perfectly with Apple’s NetInstall service.

Through a collection of hands on labs, the students are able to configure pre and post imaging scripts to perform common tasks such as naming computers, binding to active directory and configuring other computer specific settings.

By the end of day three, last week, all my students had successfully progressed from understanding how to configure a Mac manually,  to how to fully automate an installation, configuration and management of an OS X Mavericks computer.

The benefits of understanding Mac Deployment:

Students who have successfully completed our Advanced Deployment course feel that it provides them with the key knowledge required to start customising the deployment and management of Macs.

Many will go on to attend one of our other bespoke Apple courses, specialising in a particular area of interest, such as our Directory Service or Advanced Server courses.

If you found this story interesting and would like to improve your Mac knowledge, please feel free to contact one of our helpful and friendly training team or take a look at our collection of Mavericks Training courses on our website.

Word, Excel, PowerPoint, “This file is locked for editing”

Whenever you save a Microsoft Office document (Word, Excel or PowerPoint) to your local hard drive or to a fileserver, an associated temporary file is created to the same location as your MS Office document. However, you will not be able to see the associated temporary file from within the Finder because it is a hidden file.

The associated temporary file remains present in the same location as your MS document until you close your document.

The purpose of this associated temporary file is to lockout editing of your MS document to other users while you have it open. The associated temporary file also stores the name of the person who currently has the MS document open, and if another user attempts to open the document, it displays a warning dialogue (see below) to inform them that, “The file is locked for editing”.

microsoft files locked for editing
You can open the document as Read-Only, but you will not be able to edit the document. This is by-design and prevents other users overwriting your work, or even worse causing document corruption.

To clarify, if a user has opened an existing or created an Excel document entitled Example.xlsx, while this document is open there will be an associated temporary file entitled ~$Example.xlsx in the same location as your Excel document. The temporary file is named the same as the Excel document but prefixed with ~$ symbols.

The problem with using an associated temporary file is that if the MS Office application crashes then it is likely that the associated temporary file remains and locks the MS Office document.

Typically this problem is identified when another user attempts to open the MS document, and their MS Office application displays the warning dialogue “The file is locked for editing”, and this is despite anyone else on the same network having the MS document open.

The resolution for this document locking problem would be as follows:

  • Ask the person whose name appears in the warning dialogue, to open the MS document, make a small change to the MS document, File > Save the document, and then close the document. This should then clear the associated temporary file and, therefore, unlock the MS document.
  • Open the MS document as Read-Only, File > Save As, and save the MS document with a different file name.
  • Using the application Terminal (Applications/Utilities), navigate to where the MS document is saved, list all files including hidden files (in Terminal type ls -a), identify the MS documents associated temporary file (remember it will be the same name as your MS document, but prefixed with a ~$), and remove the associated temporary file by using a Terminal remove file command (rm <name of file>). Note: Use the rm command within the Terminal with caution as the removed file is deleted immediately and not moved to Trash.
  • Alternative to using the Terminal app would be to download one of the many free utilities to show/hide hidden files. There are many of these free apps but one I have used is InVisible which when opened is accessible very quickly from your Finders top menubar. It makes toggling between visible/invisible very quick and user friendly.

This MS document locked file issue is a fairly common occurrence so I hope that this article goes some way to explaining how it happens and that the resolutions outlined above help resolve issues that you may experience.

Disclaimer:

While the author has taken care to provide our readers with accurate information, please use your discretion before acting upon information based on the blog post. Amsys will not compensate you in any way whatsoever if you ever happen to suffer a loss/inconvenience/damage because of/while making use of information in this blog.

Mavericks Tip: How to disable power button sleep in 10.9

Greetings Mac Community!

Back in January I blogged about “How to Instantly Lock your OS X Screen in 10.9‘.

In this blog I mentioned that Mavericks has changed the default behaviour when pressing the Power button key.

You can no longer simply press the power button key to bring up the ‘Restart, Sleep, Cancel, Shut Down’ pop up.

In Mavericks, you can hold down the Control key whilst pressing either the power button or the Media Eject key (eject button mavericks) if you have one, to bring up this menu to quickly choose one of these options:

disable power button in mavericks

As an update to this feature, here’s a couple of additional useful pieces of information.

Firstly, if you press the power button for less than a half a second on a Mavericks computer, this will initiate the “sleep” or “wake” your Mac feature.

However, if you press and hold the power button for at least 2 seconds, (Apple state 1.5 seconds!) this will bring up the additional ‘Restart, Sleep, Cancel, Shut Down’ options. So the feature is still there, but it requires HOLDING the power button down instead of just pressing it.

Secondly, you can actually disable the power button sleep feature so that pressing the power button will bring up the ‘Restart, Sleep, Cancel, Shut Down’ pop up menu.

Here’s how to completely disable the power button sleep feature:

Simply enter the following command in Terminal, ensuring you are logged in as an admin user:

sudo defaults write com.apple.loginwindow 
PowerButtonSleepsSystem -bool no

I have noticed that this command seems to be unreliable on older models which have a SILVER power button. If you have a newer Mac with a BLACK power button then this command works fine!

Thirdly, you can force the Mac to immediately turn off by holding down the power button key for at least 5 seconds.

Important: You may lose unsaved documents if you force the computer to turn off this way. Use this method for turning off your Mac only if it has become unresponsive for an extended period of time.

Normally you should shut down the computer by selecting “Shut Down” from the Apple menu, or from the shut down dialog as pictured above.

Apple has posted full details of the power button sleep feature in Mavericks on this Apple Support Article.

To learn how to support and troubleshoot OS X Mavericks, come on our OS X Support Essentials 10.9 course!

Disclaimer:

While the author has taken care to provide our readers with accurate information, please use your discretion before acting upon information based on the blog post. Amsys will not compensate you in any way whatsoever if you ever happen to suffer a loss/inconvenience/damage because of/while making use of information in this blog.

This feature has been tested using OS X v10.9.2 which was the latest Mac OS release at the time of writing.

How to block your contacts from messages and FaceTime apps

If you’re being stalked or pranked over iMessage or FaceTime, you can block that contact and prevent them from bothering you ever again.

It’s simple, it’s easy, and it’s oh-so-gratifying. If there’s an especially annoying someone you’ve been waiting to ignore, here’s how to do it!

With the OS X Mavericks 10.9.2 update, amongst the bug and security fixes, Apple also introduced a feature that had been missing for iMessage users on the Mac – the ability to block individual contacts within the Messages and FaceTime app.

Block your Messages Contacts in Mavericks:

1. Go your Message app and select preferences and click blocked

click on blocked2. Click on the plus icon

block contacts in mavericks message3. Select the contact you wish to block

choose from the list of contacts4. Your contact will be successfully blocked from sending you future messages

now you contact is blocked

Block your FaceTime Contacts in Mavericks:

1. Open FaceTime and go to preferences, at the bottom of this pane, select “blocked”

block facetime on mavericks step 1

2. Now select the plus icon

block facetime mavericks step 2

3. Choose the contact you want to block

block facetime contacts step 3

4. Your blocked contact will now appear in your blocked contacts panel

facetime block contacts in mavericks